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Ian White Papers

Identifier: MSS-022

Scope and Contents

The Ian White Papers are comprised of the personal and professional records and archives of curator, artist and writer Ian White.

Series I: Performances and Artworks by Ian Whitecontains promotional material, props and components, publications, notes, planning documents, and documentation relating to performance works by Ian White. This includes collaborative performances, as well as solo works, and records pertaining to White’s inclusion as an artist in group exhibitions. This series also contains early drawings, paintings and studies by White, completed during his time at University.

Series II: Writing is comprised of clippings, research,notes and drafts for essays and articles by White, published in periodicals and exhibition catalogs and spanning White’s career.

Series III: Readings, Panels and Talks contains notes and promotional material for readings, panels and talks in which White was a chief moderator, co-moderator, or otherwise participated.

Series IV: Pedagogy and Advocacy Work is comprised of teaching materials, notes, student assignments, applications and media relating to White’s teaching positions at various universities, as well as his time as the facilitator of the LUX Associate Artists Programme. Also included in this section is material relating to White’s participation in focus groups and as a judge for artist’s awards and grants for various organizations.

Series V: Curatorial Work contains notes, ephemera and assorted research material regarding White’s career as a curator and film programmer. These records are separated into subseries by curatorial venue.

V.A: Freelance and independent project subseries is comprised of material describing curatorial projects White undertook in a freelance or independent capacity. These records span White’s entire career and include projects completed while White was simultaneously employed with other institutions.

V.B: LUX subseries contains material relating to White’s curatorial and programming work at the LUX Centre in London, as the Cinema Curator from 2000-2001, and in various capacities throughout the organization’s iterations through 2009.

V.C: Whitechapel Gallery subseries contains material illustrating White’s time as the Adjunct Film Curator at Whitechapel Gallery in London from 2001-2011, including promotional material for film programming programs and research documents.

V.D: Horse Hospital subseries contains documentation, notes and promotional material for programming organized by White at the Horse Hospital in London, from 1995-2000.

V.E: Mary Kelly Project subseries consists of research material, documentation, and publication-related items to the Mary Kelly Project, a collective curatorial group project involving White.

Series VI: Personal Material contains personal correspondence and material not directly related to White’s professional or artistic practices.

Series VII: Grant Applications consists of application material for grants White applied for.

Series VIII: Research and Photocopied Material consists of miscellaneous research notes by White, and photocopied articles, essays and research material on various topics.

Series IX: Promotional Material from Attended Exhibitions and Events is comprised of brochures, postcards, publications and other informational documents collected by White from exhibitions he attended, primarily in the United Kingdom and Germany.

Series X: Financial Invoices contains outgoing invoices from White to employers, for curatorial and writing services.

Series XI: Notebooks is comprised of eleven notebooks and diaries kept by White, recording professional and personal notes, as well as drawings and paintings.

Series XII: Media contains various VHS and cassette tapes, including commercially released music, documentation and artwork components.


  • 1994-2013


Access Restrictions

The collection is open to researchers without restrictions. Appointments are necessary to consult manuscript and archival materials. Access copies for media materials may not be available yet. Please contact the CCS Archivist for further details.

Use Restrictions

Collection use is subject to all copyright laws. Permission to publish materials must be obtained in writing from the Director of the Library & Archives at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. Please contact for more information.

Biographical / Historical

Ian White (1971–2013) was a British curator, performance artist, writer and educator. White's mentorship and influence palpably impacted a wide ranging group of visual artists, filmmakers, film programmers, and students in his native U.K., his adopted home of Germany, and internationally. Throughout his career, occupying many nominally different roles, White constantly questioned the boundaries between curatorial practice, performance art, and film programming. Often working collaboratively with other artists, White strove to present work that occupied a space separate from traditional institutional models of film and event programming, while often working within their context. White attended Downing College, Cambridge University from 1990–1993, where he received a BA in English Literature. White was engaged with the arts during his time at University, producing a body of work comprised of drawing, painting and performance. While at University, White was also involved with social advocacy projects, including organizing for World AIDS Day in 1994.

White began his career in arts institutions at the Horse Hospital, an independent arts venue in central London. As the Horse Hospital's programmer and manager from 1995–2000, White was responsible for organizing film programming (in the form of a screening club called kinoCULTURE). White also organized events focused on subcultures and underground film communities under the institutional purview of the Horse Hospital.

White was involved as a curator and participant in several performance events at the turn of the millennium, indicative of a tendency in his career towards the blurring of curatorial work and personal and collaborative artistic output. Working with collaborators James Hollands and Andrew Walsh, White staged events and performances including ‘Dennis Cooper's Night Out,’ an "alternative to the gay nightclub" at a historic gay club in London, where visitors could use a telephone box on the dance floor to speak directly with the author Dennis Cooper. In ‘Oedipus Rex: A Concept Symphony,’ White, Hollands and Walsh wrote and performed an experimental version of the Stravinsky opera. Like many of his projects, these events were staged only once.

In 2000, White began a new position as Cinema Curator at the Lux Centre, the British film distributor and arts organization for experimental moving image. White curated many screenings and organized screening series over his one year tenure at the Lux Centre, before the shuttering of the institution in 2001. (It would reopen as LUX the following year, and White continued to be deeply involved in later iterations of the institution.) Following the closure of the Lux Centre, White, along with colleagues including Emma Hedditch and Mike Sperlinger, started the Mary Kelly Project, a curatorial collective that sought to breach the boundaries of what a traditional film screening could entail. The group published an account of their activities as a book, titled ‘Mary Kelly’. While working at the Lux Centre, White was introduced to future frequent collaborators, the artists Emma Hedditch and Jimmy Robert. The trio staged a performative event together, ‘F.A.G: Film, Art, Gainsborough’, at Cubitt, London in 2002. White continued to make collaborative works with Robert for the rest of his working life. Their performance works – '6 things we can't do but can do now' (2004); 'Marriage à la Mode et Cor Anglais’ (2007-2009); 'Yvonne Rainer's Trio A' (2009); and 'Lemon Rose' (2012) – incorporated modern dance and choreography, institutional critique and sound and video art. White and Robert performed works at Tate Modern, London; MoMA, New York; Jeu de Paume, Paris; ICA, London; and De Appel, Amsterdam, amongst other venues.

From 2001-2011, White worked in a freelance capacity as an Adjunct Film Curator at Whitechapel Gallery, in London, where he organized many screenings, events, festivals and exhibitions with artists and filmmakers including James Benning, Cinenova, the Copenhagen Free University, Adam Curtis, Alfred Leslie, Babette Mangolte, Yvonne Rainer, Hito Steyerl and Bruce & Norman Yonemoto.

During his tenure at Whitechapel, White simultaneously worked as a curator on many external exhibitions and programs, including a series on David Wojnarowicz for the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (2002); 'Ways of Seeing,' the Turner Prize film program at Tate Britain (2002); 'Landscape for Fire: Anthony McCall in Context,' Mead Gallery, Warwick, UK (2004); 'Der Geist ist ein Waterfall,' a solo exhibition by Klaus Weber at Showroom MAMA, Rotterdam (2005); 'The Secret Public: the Last Days of the British Underground, 1978-1988,' which traveled from Kunsteverein Munich to ICA, London, and the British School at Rome Gallery, Rome (2006-2007); 'It's not the homosexual who is perverse, but the situation in which he lives: kunst, kino, kontext now,' which was exhibited across three venues in Berlin, Kino Arsenal, Tanya Leighton Gallery, and the sex club lab.oratory (2009); and 'Emily Wardill: Windows broken, break, broke together', De Appel, Netherlands (2010); amongst many others.

White had a long-standing relationship with Frieze Art Fair, for which he curated cinema programming. He was also deeply involved with the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival (Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen), for which he curated film programs in 2002, 2003, 2007, 2008 and 2010, including the widely influential ‘Kinomuseum’ for the festival’s Theme programme in 2007 (a book of the project, “Kinomuseum: Towards an artists’ cinema”, was published in 2008 with Mike Sperlinger.)

In 2009, White was the recipient of a DAAD (German Academic Exchange) Artists-in-Berlin program residency. Around this time, White completed a trio of three solo performance works, 'Ibiza,' 'Black Flags' and 'Democracy’, which were presented together for the first time at daadgalerie, Berlin in 2010. The works, like much of White's oeuvre, are generative, building off of earlier iterations and, as White described, "layering different vectors...that work in opposite directions… so that the instability of them or multiplicity of ways of reading refuse how you would normally receive information in that situation, refuse a hierarchy of the spoken word over something which is seen, over other noise, refuse the idea of a particular content." Content, as White described, "isn't anything more than looking and seeing and being present." (1) In addition to his curatorial and performance work, White was also an educator and writer. White wrote extensively for the magazines ‘Art Monthly' and 'Art Review' (for which he was a columnist and member of the editorial board), in addition to countless articles for other contemporary art and experimental film periodicals, as well as catalogue essays and book contributions.

White was a frequent lecturer, adjunct professor and PhD advisor at universities and institutions around Europe, including Middlesex University; Central St. Martin's School of Art; University of Leeds; Kingston University; Goldsmith's; Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance; Oxford University; the Dutch Art Institute; Frei Universität, Berlin; and Zurich University of the Arts. In 2007, White began working as the Lead Facilitator for the LUX Associate Artists Programme, a twelve month post-graduate program for artists working with, or adjacent to moving image practices. His presence in the program, from 2007 until his death in 2013, was invaluable to several cohorts of students.

Ian White died of cancer on October 26, 2013. He has been the subject of several posthumous publications and retrospectives.

(1) Ian White, interviewed by Giles Bailey. 2016. 'Talker #1: Ian White' Talker, no. 1 (December): 18.


15 Linear Feet (in 19 boxes and 1 binder)

Language of Materials



The Ian White Papers are comprised of twelve series:

Series I: Performances and Artworks by Ian White

Series II: Writing

Series III: Readings, Panels and Talks

Series IV: Pedagogy and Advocacy Work

Series V: Curatorial Work

Series VI: Personal Material

Series VII: Grant Applications

Series VIII: Research and Photocopied Material

Series IX: Promotional Material from Attended Exhibitions and Events

Series X: Financial Invoices

Series XI: Notebooks

Series XII: Media

See individual arrangement notes by subseries throughout the finding aid.


The Ian White Papers were acquired in 2019 from the Ian White Trust.

Related Materials

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Separated Materials

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Guide to the Ian White Papers
Hannah Mandel; Collection processed by Hannah Mandel
January 2020
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Center for Curatorial Studies Library & Archives Repository

Bard College
Annandale-on-Hudson 12504-5000 USA
845-758-2442 (Fax)