In every part of Artists, T highlights a recent or less viewed work by a Black artist and offers a few words from that artist that put the work in context. This week, we’re looking at “Body Print: Blood” (2022), one of six etched aluminum plates in Nikita Gale’s series of paintings. Pieces appear in “End of topic“Gale’s new solo show, to be viewed at Manhattan’s 52 Walker gallery through March 26.
Name: Nikita Gale
Based in: Los Angeles
Originally from: Anchorage, Alaska
When and where did you do this work?
This is a completely new work for a large, lovely space in Tribeca called 52 Walker. I worked on it from October to December of last year, in Los Angeles and New York.
Can you describe what’s going on in the piece?
The works in my “Body Print” series are created through the etching and surface removal of large rectangular aluminum panels. They are a continuation of my preference for performance and the relationship between absence and presence, specifically the ways in which humans typically indicate presence through material removal or extraction. : Think of catching initials carved in trees or handprints in the concrete of sidewalks . The titles are based on materials that any human body can contain, like bones, breath, and blood. This painting is called “Body Print: Blood” and, as with all boards, I have etched words onto its surface, which exist on a kind of spectrum to describe a person. Terms range from physical terms of the body to more relational terms, such as “father”, “sister”, “son”. What emerges are the indexes of the system that define our ideas about what makes a human being.
Each panel is paired with a small spotlight whose light spills out of the aluminum and into the surrounding space. I often use spotlights in my work because of their status like that of Jenny Odell, an artist and author of “How to do nothing” (2019), called “attention-grabbing architecture”. They’re basically objects that tell you where to look and draw attention in a way that I find really captivating. I’m a big pop fan and at concerts I see how the spotlight directs the viewer’s gaze. For many years, I have been fascinated by the way that subjects regulate social behaviors. That has to do with this larger conversation about power and authority and how those systems direct our bodies to move in certain ways, look at specific things, or get certain types of information. determined. So the spotlight is a useful metaphor for thinking about power in the context of the public arena: The stage, or anywhere we focus our attention, represents where concentration of power.
What inspired you to make it?
I thought about the artists who worked in this tradition of body printing, which relied on the body as an instrument of imprinting. Of course, David Hammons think immediately. His creation of “Body Prints” in the 1960s and ’70s was a kind of performance: In the studio, he covered himself or others with baby oil or fat, pressing the body onto a paper-like surface. or cloth and apply pigment powder or charcoal. In my series, I’m interested in using language to test different systems that make the body readable like humans, gender, race, etc.
A work of art in any medium that changed your life?
In 2013, ICA Philadelphia had a program called “Jason Rhoades, Four Roads. ” One of the works included was “The Creation Myth,” a gallery-sized installation featuring smoke generators, screens, projectors, paint cans and more that the artist created. originally created in 1998. I was blown away by the meticulous detailing, and all the materials were painstakingly worked on. It was a profound experience, watching that show. I remember walking through it and feeling as though I was allowed do anything else. Very rarely does that happen, but when it does, it really sticks with me.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/18/t-magazine/nikita-gale-end-subject.html From Nikita Gale, A Tablet Inscribed with ‘Blood’, ‘Neurs’ and ‘Knees’