peer reviewed paper presented at Occupation; Negotiation with Constructed Space Conference, Brighton University, July 2009

Abstract: The whiteroom, the sparse and solitary ‘waiting room’ of youth or later life will be examined through a consideration of two of Rachel Whiteread’s works, with reference to literary examples by Charlotte Brontë, Willa Cather, and Margaret Atwood. The paper is drawn from wider practice-based and written research, which traces the connections between works by contemporary artists Louise Bourgeois, Rachel Whiteread and Tracy Emin, and novelists, including Virginia Woolf and Barbara Kingsolver in addition to those listed above, to reveal an ongoing and discernible history of ideas concerned with the depiction of domestic space. A series of spaces were identified for investigation: House, Redrooms and Other Bedrooms, Whiteroom, Study, Glasshouse and Tent. Connecting Redrooms and Other Bedrooms and Whiteroom is the notion of a continuum of rooms occupied from early childhood to old age, varying in colour with each stage of life. The whiteroom, a place of newfound freedom, emerges from the complexity of the family home and the warm hued rooms of childhood, and exists with a view of the redrooms. Usually a rented or borrowed room, marked with its own history, the solitude of the whiteroom is warmed by evidence of previous occupation.

Image: Rachel Whiteread. Ghost. 1990. Plaster. © Rachel Whiteread.

Download Bella Kerr Whiteroom paper