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.
Press release courtesy Thomas Erben Gallery.