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Locust Projects, Miami, Florida, USA
November 18, 2017 – January 20, 2018
Locust Projects presents p e r Sway, a multimedia installation by New York-based interdisciplinary artist Nancy Davidson from November 18, 2017, through January 20, 2018. Referencing symbols of power and control, theater and performance, history and biophysics, per Sway finds Davidson holding a distorted mirror to our bizarre and horrifying political climate, a world turned upside down and gone topsy-turvy.
Known for her anthropomorphic weather balloon sculptures in her four-decades-long practice, she deeply explores the architecture of the body, reducing the feminine body to its most elemental features and manipulating them into minimal objects imbued with acidic humor and absurd hypersexuality. She considers her forms to be characters that often allude to portrayals of people in literature, mass media and culture at large, reflected back through a feminist lens.
Inspired by Russian literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of the grotesque body, Davidson has created a carnival filled with a horrifying yet alluring ensemble of sculptures, a space where envy, jealousy and the sinister roam free to create a sense of anxiety and uncertainty. The artist views the exhibition in its totality to be a ritual space that explores parodies of power and a feminized transformation of the space.
Visitors enter the exhibition through Marquee, a portico with a double-sided passageway that is intended to act as a site of transition and choice in her liminal space. Once they have chosen to enter the space, they are confronted with Bigarurre, the centerpiece of the exhibition. Davidson considers the 14-foot-tall inflatable to be the “embodiment of topsy-turvy, the upside down of the carnival festival and the ritual world of status reversal,” a bulbous mass that alludes to the cancerous, toxic culture that is metastasizing in America today.
Situated in the space are Palanquin/Platforms, four sculptures that recall the litter chairs used as an elite form of transportation throughout history from ancient Egypt and China through to Victorian-era. These sculptures parody this form of transit, which were commonly used in cultures where women were forced into seclusion. The forms are embodied by four characters: Eyeenvy, Green-eyed Lady, Sinistrous or way after Laocoon, and Mini Sin, which reduce vainglorious evils to comic figures.
Hanging menacingly from the ceiling, Dodaredone, Epigram of Goethe is a marionette filled with metallic, thigh-like shapes. The title alludes to an excerpt from Goethe’s Venetian Epigrams: “I fell in love as a boy with a puppet show; / It attracted me for a long time until I destroyed it.” The marionette is at once a symbol of control and of childishness, a destructive contradiction.
For the first time, the artist is exploring the body at the cellular level in a significant way. Utilizing video recordings of embryonic cellular movements created by biophysicist Lance Davidson, the artist demonstrates an interest in cellular structures and processes. Rope ladders recalling those used by aerialists (a figure that is also known as a feminist trope) also resemble double helixes, the shape of DNA. The artist is particularly concerned with the sometimes mysterious and volatile ways cells to operate and respond to their environment, and how these processes can be viewed as metaphors for our tumultuous times.