Heath Schultz is a research-based artist and writer. His work addresses questions of institutional critique, activism, contemporary politics, and the political efficacy of art. His writing has been published in Lateral, Radical Teacher,The Journal of Artistic Research, Parallax, and the Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, in addition to various DIY publications. His work has been shown at the New Zealand Film Archive, Auckland, New Zealand; Visual Arts Center, Austin; Experimental Response Cinema, Austin; and Plains Art Museum, Fargo, ND, to name a few. He is an assistant professor of art at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
My work typically involves an intensive gathering of cultural materials that pursue a charting of ideological patterns. Using cultural material as raw material allows me to stage ideological juxtapositions and make evident how violence is an iterative process. I’m currently working on Typologies of Whiteness, a series of videos and study of whiteness. The series orients whiteness as a structural position of violence with a particular interest in how this violence is evidenced in a visual culture of a “post-racial” society. For example, Typologies of Whiteness: White Men Cover Robert Johnson’s “Hellhound on my Trail” is comprised of several YouTube videos of white men singing Johnson’s classic Delta blues song coupled with text excerpts from various anti-racist theorists. Hellhounds is a reference to slave-owners sending bloodhounds to track the scent of escaped enslaved persons. The re-performing of the song by white men is dubious at best, but also illustrates a common trend of appropriating, and thus occluding, black pain and expression. The excerpted texts act to destabilize the comfort of the men singing—to put the videos (and action of appropriation) on trial, so to speak, in order to call into question the structural position the white male singers occupy in relation to Johnson’s original expressions.