Marwa Arsanios, Raven Chacon, Bethany Collins, Tamar Guimarães, Kapwani Kiwanga, Hương Ngô, Aliza Nisenbaum, Alison O’Daniel, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Elle Pérez, Charlotte Prodger
Nine Lives takes shape around a diverse set of protagonists, as if this exhibition were a collection of short stories or personal essays, told from different points of view. These figures—whether real or imagined—come forward in the artworks in the exhibition, which offer intimate but imperfect access to their individual lives. Each work holds the residual impression of a moment, a journey, an effort, or a thought, with varying degrees of legibility. As these individuals move quietly through everyday settings or navigate more extraordinary circumstances, larger dimensions also begin to emerge. While a notion of the self remains central to the exhibition, that self moves in relation to society and history, with an ongoing tension between public and private experience. Everyone is the main character in the own life story, but any given story overlaps with those being written or maintained by other people.
Motifs of reading, writing, and translating appear throughout the exhibition. This takes familiar forms, such as books, newspapers, and documents from an archive, but the artists are also thinking about these kinds of activities in more expansive ways: how textiles can also be texts, for example, or how a musical score is waiting to be enacted. In bringing the work of eleven artists together, Nine Lives is weighing how stories are told, where they can be found, and what their effects might be, within single lives and on a more collective scale. Not all stories are told in the present tense and many follow us from the past, infusing daily life, carried on through language but also in our bodies. As such, some of the artists in Nine Lives, or their protagonists, are also considering how traces of the past are interpreted or understood. They are developing new appraisals of history, as it is felt here and now, and how it can be re-examined or rewritten.
This exhibition is part of the Feminist Art Coalition, an expansive platform for projects inspired by feminist thought, experience, and action that will unfold at dozens of museums around the country beginning in the fall of 2020. Informed by this backdrop, Nine Lives echoes various feminist legacies, especially artists and filmmakers who have explored what it is for women to tell their own stories or to make space for narratives otherwise obstructed or unwritten. As feminist dialogues continue to evolve, Nine Lives embraces how these efforts have expanded to include greater multiplicities, geographies, and gender identities.
Curated by Karsten Lund and Caroline Picard.
Nine Lives opens to the public by appointment only on September 12, 2020, with an online viewing room and suite of digital content to follow. Attendance is free, but registration is strictly required as part of new safety measures developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Complete information on our new registration system and visitor policies will be made available in the coming weeks.
Image; Marwa Arsanios, still from Have you ever killed a bear? or Becoming Jamila, 2013-2014. Courtesy of the artist and mor charpentier, Paris.