TNM Studios August 2022 Newsletter
What a time...
I’m writing this from Philadelphia, PA where I am currently embarking on a rest and recovery period because…shit. has. been. wild. over. here! There just ain’t no other way to say this. Three body of works of mine are on view in New York City ( I cant even believe I am typing this), I had a very in depth profile in The New York Times penned by Siddhartha Mitter drop last week and I am back home meditating and fully back in my care regimen and I’m seeing the results of putting in this kind of work in before all of this. I was able to be fully present and had limited sensory flare ups. I still hit my bedtime and ate well. Hotel life in NYC wasn’t the easiest, but I figured out a way to make it work. The pre-emptive care plan i create for myself was a game changer and I’m thankful for it.
Shoutout to my therapists for seeing me through all of this!
Now I’d like to share a bit about A Trace of an Implied Presence my most ambitious project to date…
Most artists who work with Nike will embark on making a product like a t-shirt or shoes. I made an exhibition. This partnership with Nike falls on their 50th anniversary which is a time that they are digging deep into their original company values which have everything to do with creating products that aid in the care and preservation of a human bodies movement across age The angle I took came from dialogue with Nicholas Schonberger, Nike’s Sr. Director Corporate Narrative Communications who really broke down the values of what the company was originally founded on.
The exhibition centers on a multichannel video installation inspired by the my research into the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 1983 landmark festival, Dance Black America, a dynamic presentation of American dance that featured legendary Black dancers, choreographers, scholars, and dance companies. In The Shed’s Level 2 Gallery, the installation features four illuminated dance floors that have been made to specifications of each dancers movement style. Hovering above each floor is a screen with a projected film portrait of the singular figures or groups that I’ve chosen to highlight, including Shepard, scholar and tap dancer Michael J Love, dancer and choreographer Leslie Cuyjet, the Rod Rodgers Dance Company, and dancers Audrey & June Donaldson, a couple upholding the legacy of the Philly Bop.
Approaching my research in BAM’s Hamm Archives as a conversation with the materials I discovered, I began a dialogue with Mikki Shepard, the lead curator who programmed and produced the festival and appears in one of the film portraits. Along with Patricia Kerr Ross, Shepard organized the weekend celebration of 300 years of African American dance with performances, workshops, and panels, all centering Blackness and the African diaspora. The multichannel video installation in The Trace of an Implied Presence showcases a range of contemporary dancers as well as those who have passed, preserving their legacies for the future.
The Trace of an Implied Presence weaves together film, performance, sculpture, and sound in a single space. A Pair of sculptures, The Tracers, 2022 stand at the corner of two floors. They are steel framed two way mirrors that can allow a viewer to capture the image of a dancer dancing with themselves.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a free publication set to debut in Nov 2022 featuring newly commissioned texts by writers selected by myself: poet, archivist and dancer Harmony Holiday and scholars Jasmine E. Johnson and Samantha N. Sheppard, who together examine the history of Black dance and the nuance of physical and movement-based awareness on the dancer’s body as a living record.
The exhibition will include special, in-gallery performances which can be found here.
These floors are open to the entire dance community to use.
The exhibition is organized by Tiona Nekkia McClodden, and co-produced by The Shed in partnership with Nike.
Before I move on, Id like to take a moment and bust a few myths that are emerging about this moment;
Because I think many folks may think things like this happen overnight in this slow industry, I can assure you that is not the case for me. Some things are fast, and then others are slug-like slow. Many of the moves that were made to allow for this to happen started way back in 2019, and some were made just earlier this year. To accommodate these shifts, I had to put myself in a bit of isolation to make this work happen.
*My NY representative gallery MIN had no hand in securing these opportunities for me. I came to the gallery with all these exhibitions locked in and with a plan to have all of these managed by my studio. This is important for those who have a distorted idea of what galleries can do for an artist like me. MIN has presented my work at a few art fairs in really creative ways that have been great for me, but my first solo isn’t set to occur with them until next Fall 2023.
*My relationship with 52 Walker and Ebony is one-to-one. We agreed to make this exhibition happen well over a year ago before I chose a gallery to work with. She came to my studio on her own accord, and we locked in and did this thing together. 52 Walker does not represent artists, and when we first discussed doing a show together, this is why it felt like this was the space to do THIS body of work because it would be standing on my own without any other folks in my ear and I would be working directly with a curator who truly understood what I was trying to do.
*My relationship and partnership with Nike is also a one-to-one deal. Nike brought me and my project, The Trace of An Implied Presence, to The Shed. The Shed did not choose me to do this show, Nike and I established a relationship first, and then Nike facilitated The Shed as a space for this work to exist due to its scale. I never announced our partnership prior because the NDA was the illest I’ve ever signed, and I also need to avoid hype and get the work done.
*With MoMA, again, this was a one-to-one engagement. I sold two works to MoMA directly from my studio in 2020/2021. The Brad Johnson Tape, X – On Subjugation, 2017 + Af-Fixing Ceremony: Four Movements for Essex, Movement I: Essex + Audre, 2015. Curators T. Jean Lax and Stuart Comer were key to this I took on an insane amount of admin to make this happen in my studio, the general agreement, registrar work, etc. Before then, there was Curator Vivian Crockett and her support in bringing me to MoMA for a Modern Monday program in 2018 which was key in allowing MoMA a chance to really understand the context behind the work I was making at that time. This was a learning experience for me in what it takes to prep something for conservation which has forever changed me for the better. This work was thisclose to being discarded as I felt it was so experiential that maybe it did not make sense to keep it, and I’m so thankful that I did not move on that.
*None of my assistants make my work. I brought on two assistants, one in June and another in July, who have helped me organize my studio while I stayed focused on making the art. They supported me in admin work, organization and inventory so I wouldn’t feel slammed with studio management after getting these works up in NYC.
So, all in all, it was being in dialogue with a range of people who believed in me and my work, not one larger entity controlling everything. I feel this is very important for you all to know this.
Hopefully, this will put a lot of the speculation to rest. Honestly, the best way to read this moment and what it means to me, is to understand that I decided that I was not going to wait on the art world to chose me, I would have to choose myself first and that meant I had to be open to some pretty hard quiet work in working directly with folks who believed in what I was trying to do. This is why its important to share here with you all that all of this was not just me; MoMA believed in preserving this work, Ebony believed in what I was trying to say during this time and Nike believed in what I was trying to do with this work and more importantly the stakes of what it meant to do a work on Black dance during this time when dancers have been the most marginalized in the arts community during this time and in general. It is this belief that gave me the courage and confidence to take on this work alone, and I’m so grateful that I did.
Announcements + Exhibitions + Events + and all else...
July 13 – Oct 8, 2022 at 52 Walker
*** be sure to check out my related readings library as well.
On view for a year at The Museum of Modern Art in their 2nd Floor contemporary galleries
**be sure to listen to the audio guides for each work for more insight on the works.
Aug 3 – Dec 11, 2022
Co-Produced by Nike and The Shed, NYC
I spoke with Dr. Ayanna Dozier for Brooklyn Rails New Social Environment #620 where we discussed all of the works up now on view.
Conceptual Fade ***now on view
On View July 23 – September 27, 2022
***Make an appt for viewing by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The fourth show at [ Cf. ] features L’Rain’s second studio album Fatigue, 2021. As Taja shares on her website, “Fatigue puts out slippery sonics that Cheek describes as “approaching songness.: which highlights L’Rain’s commitment to the experimental value of process as her practice. Heavily blending genres (thus making new unnamable space for herself) including but not limited to gospel, jazz, and neo-soul, Fatigue fractures and mends our expectations of what musicians, especially Black women musicians, are categorized to do versus what they need to do (and actually do).”
Taja Cheek, known professionally as L'Rain, is an American experimentalist, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and curator known primarily as the lead vocalist and songwriter of her eponymous band. L'Rain has been recognized for experimental music that draws on a vast number of traditions and genres in a practice and aesthetic Cheek calls "approaching songness". Her self-titled debut, L'Rain, was included in best-of-year lists by several publications. Fatigue, was released on Mexican Summer in 2021. The album met with wide acclaim, with positive reviews from outlets including Pitchfork and NPR. Cheek provides vocals and plays guitar, bass, synth, keyboards, piano, percussion, tape effects, and airhorn on the album, which also features an expanded roster of twenty collaborators.
Readings - I’m currently working through;
I haven’t been able to read much this past month due to my production and exhibition schedule, so ill share what I have on deck to work through this month so drop a few recs in the comments if you have them.
Music, Films, + Videos…
I haven’t really been able to watch a damn thing aside from my editing timeline. But the music I’ve kept up with.
-Beyoncé Beyoncé Beyoncé, RENAISSANCE. We are hearing and seeing Beyoncé the conceptual artist, with this one. I was so thrilled by her and this particular read of house music and how she is paying tribute to her uncle. When I was sneaking off to gay clubs in SC in high school, house music was the first music that I heard that aligned with the community. Hearing and seeing how that music free’d up Black folks when they danced blew my mind. I love it all – the merch, the white label designs, the transitions between songs. It’s right on time for me.
-Makaya McCraven, Dream Another – Seventh String
-Westside Gunn, Peace Fly God - Horses on Sunset
-Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Katalyst 13 - Reflections is a standout!
-Sam Gendel , SUPERSTOR – Sustain_02
-EST Gee – Love is Blind
See yall in September – I got one more in the tuck to close out the year.
Thanks + praises be to the gods.