The “Weird Nostalgia” of Whiteness: Genevieve Gaignard and Martine Gutierrez’ Self-Portrait Photography

Curatorial Practice (MA) | Humanities & Sciences Division
Meghan SmithCuratorial Practice (MA) (2023)
Medium: Written word
Dimensions: 55 pages
In Nobody Knows My Name, 1961, James Baldwin describes how white people long for a bygone era, caught in a “weird nostalgia.” Contemporary American artists Genevieve Gaignard and Martine Gutierrez address this nostalgia in their work. Looking to critical discourses in whiteness studies and feminist theory, as well as contemporary pop culture, I conduct close readings of Gaignard’s and Gutierrez’ photographic self-portraits made between 2014 and 2022. Gaignard, a white-passing biracial woman who uses her body to explore racial and cultural identity, exposes legacies of American white supremacy. Gutierrez, a light-skinned Latinx transwoman of indigenous descent, subverts the glamorous aesthetics of Old Hollywood. Through elaborate costuming, subtle self-transformation, and careful staging of the photographic scene, both artists critique the artifice of heteronormative femininity by evoking the “weird nostalgia” of whiteness. I argue that their work provides new insights into racial performance, stressing the urgency of deconstructing racial nostalgia.



  • Owner: Meghan Smith
  • Collection: Curatorial Practice (MA) Program
  • Version: 1 (show all)
  • Status: Live