The Ridiculous Art of White Power Milk

Not too long ago, we addressed the question of whether art could be quantified. What I would like to consider is if all we need to do to consider something art is to merely apply the label art to it. Having already seen the curious art of Caleb Larsen, I thought I had seen it all when it came to art that didn’t really seem like art to me. I was ill prepared for the shock I would receive when I came across a web site created by Nate Hill called White Power Milk.

When I first saw the White Power Milk site I immediately reacted with a mixture of disgust and confusion. Could this really be a serious web site, I thought to myself. The gist of the site is that it purports to offer for sale milk that has been gargled in the mouth of your choice of well bred white women, from the best of backgrounds and schooling.

The point of this is that by being gargled by prestigious white women, milk is purified and therefore better for you. As I went further along into the depths of this bizarre web site, I found that you could see particulars of each white woman along with cost per half ounce as well as two ounces with delivery information in New York City and outside of it.

Looking at the frequently asked questions, I am immediately shocked to see that one of the questions is whether the site is real or not and whether the milk really is for sale or not — with the rather upsetting answers that the site is real, and that the milk really is being sold. I cannot fathom that anyone would be willing to waste over one hundred dollars to find out if it is really possible to buy milk “purified” by being gargled by attractive women, let alone have a personalized video recorded for them.

By popular demand, you can now purchase a milk gargling video performed by a select number of our rich, beautiful, white girls. If you have purchased the video + purified milk delivery package, she will purify the very milk on-camera that is delivered to you. After your order is processed, your video is recorded within 3 business days and uploaded to a password protected channel (made especially for you) hosted on Vimeo.com.

The truth of the site made itself known when I came across the Terms & Conditions link, buried deep and down on each page. Particularly notable on this page is this notice — “Buyer understands that a portion of the information on this website has been fictionalized.” By this we can only possibly understand that the entire web site could be and most likely is false — the identities of women or whether the product being sold is even real milk.

As blatantly false as White Power Milk clearly is, it to me cannot be quantified in any way as art. In any case it is most certainly a matter of very poor taste. Even in the curious case of Caleb Larsen, the most extreme works of artwork involved taking money in exchange for nothing, or even seemingly arbitrarily printed dots of color representing the entire works of Shakespeare.

Perhaps it’s just that I, at the age of nearly thirty four, just don’t “get” new art and what the innovations of web sites have brought to the world of art in the last twenty-one years. Maybe, on the other hand, this really is just bad art brought to you in an relatively new format.

13 comments

  • I find White Power Milk a fascinating site. I “get it” much more than the Caleb art you mention. White Power Milk is about — White Power — and our perception of gender and Race in society. What could be better than drinking gargled white milk from a white woman’s mouth? Suckling it from her breast?

    The power in the stark message is that we value color over substance and the perception of power over real gravitas. The fact that you can go through a PayPal payment process for $125.00 for some gargled milk is telling — and while I didn’t click the “Buy” button to finish the transaction — I wonder what would have happened if I did. Would my money have been refunded with a lesson in the silliness of it all? Or would they have actually sent me something rancid for my foolishness?

    The fact that we have to search for the “Terms and Conditions” is another clue that the site is more about culture and power than art — and I only wish they offered me a bonus spoonful of Whoopi Goldberg Chocolate Milk stewed in Whoopi’s buttcrack after Annie Liebovitz dunked her in a bathtub full of that powerful white stuff:

    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/leibovitz_a_gallery.html

    • Well thought, David. I think you would have not been refunded and you would have gotten a well preserved milk sample from some bodega.

      Here’s wishing for Whoopi tushie milk!

  • After reading this item of yours I had to look at the site and spent ages in total shock. OK I am rather old and conservative and from a rather black & white industry so you can imagine this does not impress. I wish this was produced here so I could take it to the cleaners at numerous tribunals.

    Art, certainly not. Art is a purposeful production for the purpose of experience and taste. It is celebrity-stimulation-come-fad meaning it is different and because it is “celebrity” it must be chic and that never lasts.

    It is by its own admition, racist. It choses “white” actors and fails to successfully argue that it is white because milk is. Additionally its disclaimer that there is fictionallity within its stories would make it liable in European Courts to have it blocked because it attempts to sell to “consumers” based on art, fiction and without “credible evidentiary criteria”.

    Please tell me, is this another “only in America”?

    My dad would always use the phrase – “A scam is always a scam”.

    D Charles QC
    Gibraltar

  • I stumbled on these blogs a while ago when I was searching for a text of “Wealth Against Commonwealth” and was very impressed. Anyway, at 19 years old and headed to college I feel that my generation might view this website differently, I for one applaud it. In terms of weather or not it qualifies as art, that argument is likely as old as art itself or at least dadaism.

    I’ve seen very similar faux products in modern art galleries, particularly at MassMOCA. The “products” on display at MassMOCA poked fun at society and brought into examination certain societal issues. Either way, art does not in my mind appear to be an easily defined term but I would certainly say that White Power Milk is a form of creative expression and one that causes an emotional reaction. While I cannot define art at it’s essence I feel that those qualities of White Power Milk qualify it as art. Midnight cinema classics like “The Holy Mountain” are certainly in the realm of art as well as Andy Warhol’s “a” and even his film “Sleep” (Sleep being of special interest because it gets flack as being nothing more than hours recording a sleeping person and not art. With that mindset one could say that Ansel Adams did nothing more than to record rocks and trees and canyons.)

    Regarding a website as the medium. I do not find the medium to be foreign for art. If unexpected one might find the interactivity coupled with the lack of narrative, jarring but that is how that medium works. By using the traditional website medium in a nontraditional way the artist creates a situation in which the web surfer is to forced to recognize the contents as facetious and then to analyze the message in the realism.

    I do not remember a time before the Internet and modern computers, I remember a time before my family had Internet but I do not remember a time without computer games and applications. Computers and the Internet are, in my mind, very much real places and thus a logical location for art. Where a room and walls best suits a traditional art exhibit, a computer and the Internet best suit other artistic mediums.
    As for the actual content of the site, I find in it relevant to the times. The Internet is host to countless strange pay services, just look at the prostitution problems on Craigslist or the infamous “Silk Road” where through a series of proxies one can purchase a wide variety of illegal drugs. The pornography industry exploded as the Internet grew and this in a sense what White Power Milk is a statement about. WPM is not a statement on pornography but instead a statement on web-surfer and the client. On the Internet one is shielded by varying levels of detachment all the way up to complete anonymity. People would not purchase or download as much pornography as they do if it were not for this anonymity, it would simply be too embarrassing. These levels of detachment give rise to intense social interactions rarely seen offline. A cyber-bullying victim would be able to attest to that, along with anyone who has ever read a youtube comment or an angry forum post.

    So what does this have to do with WPM? WPM is strange but it is far from the strangest or most offensive thing on the internet, it is benign its purpose and falsely offensive in it’s presentation. I am not the artist, I see only through my own lens, but through that lens I see WPM as a message about the strange and often perverse markets the Internet has given rise to and the seriousness with which these markets take themselves. As for the whole “White Power” part of the site and the actual content itself, I see it almost as irrelevant aside from the fact that it is intended to cause a reaction in the web-surfer. Any statements being made about race seem as a whole overshadowed (purposefully) by the fact the statements are being made so boldly and crassly in the first place.

    As a comparison take a look at http://www.dhmo.org/ the Internet if home to endless amounts of false and often dangerous information. Chain emails, nasty rumors, crank theories and urban legends. It’s no wonder a site like http://www.snopes.com/ has become so popular. If after becoming aware of what DHMO is actually saying one is not willing to exercise caution in what they will believe on the Internet than I fear that poor soul is destined for dehydration ;)

    • Thank you for the well thought out comment, Zach. I agree it is definitely not the most offensive thing online. I appreciate the thought about it being a commentary on these odd markets born from this odd thing we know as “the net”!

  • Great comment Zach, you certainly have forced me to rethink a bit…

    D Charles QC
    Gibraltar

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  • Seriously, after Marcel Duchamp, is this even shocking?

  • You are all missing the point. So, at least the “art” worked as it should I think.