Performances 1976 – 81
January 17 – February 23, 2013
Reception for the artist: Thursday, January 31, 6-8:30 pm
Nengudi will also participate in:
– Now Dig This! From Los Angeles to New York City, symposium, MoMA, February 8
– KISS, collaborative performance with Ulysses Jenkins and Maren Hassinger, MoMA/PS1, February 10
Thomas Erben is very excited to present an exhibition of photographs documenting performances by seminal artist Senga Nengudi (b. 1943, Chicago, IL), which took place in public or for the camera between 1976 and 1981.
Best known perhaps for her nylon mesh wall pieces and installations, Senga Nengudi is regarded as a core member of the African-American avant-garde – with artists such as David Hammons and Maren Hassinger – as it was concentrated in Los Angeles during the 1970s and early ‘80s. Her 2003 show with this gallery featured her pivotal series Répondez s’il vous plaît, originally exhibited at Just Above Midtown Gallery (1977), combining cut, knotted, twisted and stretched pantyhose with sand and various found materials into sculptures closely connected to the human body, its movements and psyche. Similar pieces are currently part of Now Dig This! at MoMA/PS1, which traveled there from the Hammer Museum, LA, and the installation R.S.V.P. I is currently on display at MoMA as one of their recent acquisitions.
For Nengudi, the employment of used pantyhose instills her nylon mesh pieces with a residue of the body and the wearer, and including this sculptural material in performance work connects it even closer with lived experience. Performance, either solo or in collaboration, has always been a major part of her multi-disciplinary practice, with an emphasis on improvisation and ritual, and Nengudi’s background in dance has also played an important role. While purely documentary at the time, the photographs in our current show now function as independent works; many were reproduced in art publications, but this is the first time a comprehensive, editioned selection is exhibited.
A legendary figure, Nengudi has been included in numerous exhibitions such as NowHere – Incandescent, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark (1996); Out of Action: Between Performance and the Object, 1949-1979, MOCA, Los Angeles (1998); 54th Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburg, and Non Toccare la Donna Bianca, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, Italy (both 2004); WHACK! Art & The Feminist Revolution, MOCA, Los Angeles (2007); Under the Big Black Sun, MOCA, Los Angeles, and Dance/Draw, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (both 2011); and Now Dig This! The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and PS1/MoMA, New York (2012). Her most recent solo show was Lov U, Warehouse Gallery, Syracuse University, NY (2012). Nengudi’s work is part of the collections of the Carnegie Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, MOCA Los Angeles, the Brooklyn Museum, the Hammer Museum, and MoMA. The artist lives and works in Colorado Springs, CO – this is her fifth solo exhibition with Thomas Erben Gallery.