Those doing ritual have the assurance of time.
Individual acts of art do not have to depend on permanence of the materials
Only the permanence of the soul.
World/Soul without in
I create a peace/piece
I wipe it out with my hands, my feet, my body.
It remains in the fabric of time threading through the millennia
Remembered and forgotten a thousand times over. Yet there.
Seen—not seen—experienced as part of the air.
For nearly half a century, Senga Nengudi made artworks that express attitudes, relationships, and entanglements. She creates a new kind of space that emphasizes the tension between material and action through time. The politics embedded in her practice intentionally disrupt the expected values and associations between an artwork, social relations, and place, and also between the individual and the collective. Drawing from historical rituals as well as contemporary encounters, her works boldly address the African diaspora, the body, and perceptions about Black identities in America.
Refrigerator and air conditioner parts, fan, nylon pantyhose, and sand.
“I liked the idea of the fragility of the body [nylons] up against something that's solid and hard, and unyielding.” In this mixed-media installation, Nengudi combines hard, rigid, found industrial objects with the soft, elastic properties of nylon. The mixture of tension and movement suggests that resilience and fragility can coexist. The work is also temporal, as the corroded materials attest to the passing of time while the moving fan activates the sculpture in the way a performer might.
R.S.V.P. Reverie D
Nylon mesh, copper, and sand.
In this R.S.V.P., Nengudi uses different shades of nylon mesh to create a geometric arrangement that stretches across the wall and drops down to the floor, responding to space and gravity. Commenting on her continued use of the material decades later, Nengudi says, “I really feel comfortable with the pantyhose. They are like an extension of myself. Somehow it feels like there are still things to be said with that material.”
R.S.V.P. Reverie A
Nylon mesh, found wire object, and sand.
As an attempt to revisit earlier works, Nengudi began the Reverie series in 2011. Here the artist twists and plays with shapes of nylon mesh filled with sand, creating pendulous forms. The flaccid aesthetics of the stretched nylon allude to the sag of breasts or widening of hips from childbirth. Nengudi honors the physical transformations that women undergo with time, while questioning ideals of beauty.
Simply by being, that’s a political statement. So, whatever comes out of me has all those elements of me in it: I’m Black, I’m a woman, and at this point I’m a woman of a certain age. So simply by being, I am those things.
Senga Nengudi: Topologies is organized by the Lenbachhaus Munich, in cooperation with the DAM. Concept and idea by Stephanie Weber, Lenbachhaus. Funding is provided by the donors to the Annual Fund Leadership Campaign, and the residents who support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). Promotional support is provided by 5280 Magazine and CBS4.