You Done Slip constructs a textured prism of historical ruptures, organic materialism, and aesthetic contracts. The works aggravate tensions between historicism and historical materialism: the two kinds of history Walter Benjamin articulates in his Theses on the Philosophy of History. With playful intensity, Meredith Nickie lends visual dimension to the oppressive order of time perpetuated by historicism; a notion of history that legitimates the Victor’s power and place by freezing time. Yet cracks appear, and organic formations emerge. The viewer is viscerally compelled toward an-other telling of time – a historical materialism that breaches operations of power as it flashes up a constellation of incongruities to be grasped within “a moment of danger.” Mud boiling up from the spring interpellates the viewer’s insides – even as its potentiality is caught, framed, and fixed, by the cool weight of the exposed aluminum.
The organic and highly charged media used throughout the exhibition in the display of photographs – petroleum-based rubber, cardboard, aluminum, felt – expose Nickie’s sculptural dispositions and the emotional inversions of material – highly sensual in their texture yet leaving the viewer cold. The enigma of organic material and body tears at the image despite the frame’s attempts to embalm the object. The milky residue of an octopus’ innards leaves some trace of life, not only in its unnerving mimicry of human form – the tenderness of child, cherub, Christ – but in the excretions constituting its life force. Grotesque, and free, while pinned against the baroque as the velvet background is exposed only in its wear, betrayed by the new.
Familiar, yet strange, tied by a logic that refutes legibility, the connections between the works are not neatly reconciled. But like a mesh screen over a landscape, Itinerant Spoils: Nearly Night to Nearly Day carries visual, conceptual, and historical tricks from image to image. Remnants of violent colonial histories manifest in structures of domination: geometric monuments, ornate patterns, and the bleached portrait. You Done Slip spins a web littered with fragments – natural resources, banal refuse of trade, bodies in shadow and light – arrested in space, released in time.
Meredith Nickie is a Vincentian-Canadian artist based in New York who works in sculpture, installation and photography. Her diverse projects challenge conventional ideas of structure, taste and progress in representations of race and class framed by the enduring legacies of culture and capital. Nickie completed the Whitney Museum ISP, earned a MFA from Cornell University, and a BFA from York University. She was a DAAD Fellow in Berlin at the Universität der Künst, and a Jackie McLean Fellow at the University of Hartford. Nickie has held residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the Santa Fe Art Institute.
Her work has recently been exhibited in New York at Art in General, Sculpture Center, Winkleman Gallery, PS122, and Rush Arts Gallery; in addition to IDEA Space at Colorado College, Colorado Springs; A Space Gallery, Toronto; Vox Populi Gallery, Philadelphia; Artspace, New Haven; The John and June Allcott Gallery, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and the 2010 Sculpture Biennial at the Evergreen Museum, Baltimore. The artist wishes to thank the Toronto Arts Council, and the Ontario Arts Council for their valuable support.
Roya Rastegar is an artist, curator, and scholar living between Los Angeles and Philadelphia. She received a PhD in the History of Consciousness from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and has curated across film and art contexts, as a Curatorial Fellow at the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program (2008-09) and part of the programming teams of various film festivals, including the Los Angeles Film Festival, Tribeca, Sundance, the Arab Film Festival, and the Santa Cruz Women of Color Film & Video Festival. She collaborated with Wu Tsang as the co-writer of Wildness(2012), a magical realist documentary that premiered at MoMA’s Documentary Fortnight Festival. Rastegar was recently awarded a Creative Capital grant in the Emerging Art Fields for a new media installation project in development with writer/director Maryam Keshavarz. Rastegar is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor in the History of Art Department at Bryn Mawr College.