Engraved into the Body

Curated by Keyna Eleison and Victor Gorgulho

Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
521 W 21st Street
New York
Chelsea
Jun 25th 2021 — Jul 30th 2021

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Some images set fires. Such is the case with the archival photographs of the Teatro Experimental do Negro (Black Experimental Theater) (TEN), who were active from 1944-1961 in Rio de Janeiro. Not real fires, of course, but legacies, bodies ablaze in performance. The radical joy and experimentation of TEN is palpable—Afro-Brazilian artists, staging canonical Western plays, literacy classes, community gatherings, and beauty pageants in an environment of systemic anti-Blackness. To assert the presence of Black bodies in public space, then, as now, is a radical thing.

The first version of this show premiered under the same name at Carpintaria, Fortes D'Aloia & Gabriel's venue in Rio de Janeiro in 2020. The archive serves as the kindling for this intergenerational group show of contemporary Brazilian artists. Many of the artists, including Herbert de Paz and Paulo Nazareth, made works specifically for this New York iteration “Engraved into the Body” at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery.

Two paintings by the founder of TEN, Abdias Nascimiento (a venerated Afro-Brazilian scholar, artist, and activist) map the body into colorful, Modernist-looking squiggles and shapes. Nearby, Ayrson Heraclito’s photograph from his 2015 series History of the Future depicts a body submerged in pink water—supposedly an experiment in hydromancy, a way of telling the future using water.

In the smaller gallery, bodies are further evaporated, flayed, and isolated: Marimba (2021) Márcia Falcão’s large visceral painting depicts a female figure tied to a pole, upside down, with pieces of her flayed flesh buzzing around her. Rodrigo Cass’ video Narciso No Mijo (2006), installed on the ground, depicts the artist evaporating their reflection in a pool of urine with an iron. Together these two works communicate a conflicted sense of owning a body—specifically the Black body—in precarity and celebration. They mirror the words on Agrippina R. Manhattan’s LED artwork Sem titulo (provisorio) (2021) that greets viewers at the start of the exhibition: “Before we fall we will become the sun.” —Simon Wu

Herbert De Paz, Alegoria das Américas (da serie Iconografia das Sombras), 2021. Collage on aluminium, 67 x 36 1/4 inches. Courtesy the artist, Fortes D'Aloia & Gabriel Galeria, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles.

  • Through
    Jun 6th

    A traveling exhibition of 69 oil paintings, watercolors and works on paper aims to chart Milton Avery’s trajectory and contextualize his work for a new generation.

  • Through
    May 29th

    Inspired by fractals, Renee Cox’s deity-like collages of Black figures constitute an Afrofuturist creation myth.

  • Through
    Jun 6th

    An economical survey of Jonas Mekas, “The Camera Was Always Running” serves as a touching introduction to the Lithuanian filmmaker and champion of avant-garde cinema.

  • Through
    May 22nd

    Exhibited with melodic sight-lines, Mary Manning’s “Ambient Music” hums with the background noise of the subconscious.

  • Through
    May 28th

    The words masterful and mastery assert themselves the instant one encounters the works in “My Body,” both for Nancy Grossman’s command of a wide range of skills and her active state of dominance, identity and selfhood.

  • Through
    May 23rd

    Full of whimsy and delight, Fernanda Laguna’s work in “The Path of the Heart” cuts an incisive critique of sociopolitical issues in Latin America.

  • Through
    May 28th

    The work in Valentina Vaccarella’s “Bless this Life” rests on a simple irony: monogrammed, embroidered French bridal linens pulled taut across stretcher bars and besmirched by rough images of modern madams.

  • Through
    Jun 6th

    Daniel Lie’s “Unnamed Entities” at the New Museum challenges the antiseptic aim of curation and conservation by imagining a different kind of organic art that needs to be nurtured rather than preserved.

  • Through
    Jan 2nd 2023

    The sonic encounters provoked by Camille Norment’s elaborate acoustic artworks serve as agents for social consciousness.

  • Ongoing

    Day’s End, an elegiac memorial to and stubborn ghost of eras bygone, will also serve as silent witness to the inevitable changes to come.

  • Ongoing

    Dia’s recent acquisition of works by Charles Gaines forms the basis of this survey, which includes the artist’s first forays into mathematics-based grid drawings and other early experiments in medium and form.