November 18th, 2017 - January 20, 2018
Locust Projects is proud to present p e r Sway, a multimedia installation by New York-based interdisciplinary artist Nancy Davidson. Referencing symbols of power and control, theater and performance, history and biophysics, per Sway finds Davidson holding a distorted mirror to our bizarre and horrifying political climate, a world turned upside down and gone topsy-turvy.
Known for her anthropomorphic weather balloon sculptures in her four-decades-long practice, she deeply explores the architecture of the body, reducing the feminine body to its most elemental features and manipulating them into minimal objects imbued with acidic humor and absurd hypersexuality. She considers her forms to be characters that often allude to portrayals of people in literature, mass media and culture at large, reflected back through a feminist lens.
Inspired by Russian literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of the grotesque body, Davidson has created a carnival filled with a horrifying yet alluring ensemble of sculptures, a space where envy, jealousy and the sinister roam free to create a sense of anxiety and uncertainty. The artist views the exhibition in its totality to be a ritual space that explores parodies of power and a feminized transformation of the space.
Visitors enter the exhibition through Marquee, a portico with a double-sided passageway that is intended to act as a site of transition and choice in her liminal space. Once they have chosen to enter the space, they are confronted with Bigarurre, the centerpiece of the exhibition. Davidson considers the 14-foot-tall inflatable to be the “embodiment of topsy-turvy, the upside down of the carnival festival and the ritual world of status reversal,” a bulbous mass that alludes to the cancerous, toxic culture that is metastasizing in America today
Situated in the space are Palanquin/Platforms, four sculptures that recall the litter chairs used as an elite form of transportation throughout history from ancient Egypt and China through to Victorian-era England. These sculptures parody this form of transit, which were commonly used in cultures where women were forced into seclusion. The forms are embodied by four characters: Eyeenvy, Green-eyed Lady, Sinistrous or way after Laocoon, and Mini Sin, which reduce vainglorious evils to comic figures.
Hanging menacingly from the ceiling, Dodaredone, Epigram of Goethe is a marionette filled with metallic, thigh-like shapes. The title alludes to an excerpt from Goethe’s Venetian Epigrams: “I fell in love as a boy with a puppet show; / It attracted me for a long time until I destroyed it.” The marionette is at once a symbol of control and of childishness, a destructive contradiction.
For the first time, the artist is exploring the body at the cellular level in a significant way. Utilizing video recordings of embryonic cellular movements created by biophysicist Lance Davidson, the artist demonstrates an interest in cellular structures and processes. Rope ladders recalling those used by aerialists (a figure that is also known as a feminist trope) also resemble double helixes, the shape of DNA. The artist is particularly concerned with the sometimes mysterious and volatile ways cells operate and respond to their environment, and how these processes can be viewed as metaphors for our tumultuous times.
Nancy Davidson would like to thank her production assistants for their valuable contributions in helping to realize this exhibition: Alex Branch, Caio Sorrentino, aricoco, Marissa Petteniti, Ben Browne, Maddi Seely, John Weine and Chen-Ling Tsao.
As part of the exhibition, Locust Projects will be hosting a performance by Yummy Ninja (Deandre Brown) on Tuesday, Dec 5, 2017 with performances starting promptly at 7:30pm and 8:30 pm.
Locust Projects will host a Practice + Process panel discussion with Nancy Davidson joined by Antonia Wright, Miami-based multidisciplinary artist, Billie Lynn, University of Miami Associate Professor of Sculptor and Associate Chair & Graduate of the UM Art & Art History Department, and Juleisy y Karla (Giovanni Profera and Josue Garcia), Miami-based performance artists.
Nancy Davidson: p e r Sway exhibition notes were authored by Locust Projects Exhibitions Manager Ricardo Mor.
This exhibition is made possible in part by a Funding Arts Network grant. Image Credit: Studio LHOOQ
Nancy Davidson (b. 1943, Chicago, IL) lives and works in New York. Davidson is an interdisciplinary artist, working primarily in sculpture and installation. She received a BFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1975. Her work has been exhibited at major institutions including the Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), the Art Institute (Chicago), the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), Institute of Contemporary Art (Philadelphia), Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, (Ridgefield, CT), Corcoran Museum of Art (Washington, DC), Artists Space (New York), Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, NY), among many others. Davidson’s honors include the Guggenheim Fellowship (2014), Pollock Krasner Foundation (2001, 2015), Creative Capital (2005), Anonymous Was a Woman Award (1997), Yaddo Residency (1980,2003), Massachusetts Council of Arts, Individual Artists Fellowship (1981), NEA (1979). Her work has been reviewed in the New York Times, Art in America, Artforum, the Village Voice, the Brooklyn Rail, Der Spiegel and Art/Text.
In 2015, the monograph Nancy Davidson: Cowgirl was published by Daylight Books and distributed by D.A.P.