APRIL 18 through MAY 23, 2015
Bermudez Projects is proud to present Nanci Amaka | Beast, the artist’s first solo exhibit in which she explores the aftermath of trauma, identity, memory and the liminal spaces between experience and language with richly-layered mixed media paintings, drawings and audience-involved performances as a means of connecting the past, present and future, and thereby reshaping history.
“My work lives in the space between looking, seeing and knowing,” says Amaka. “My performances explore the concept of existing in a world with other humans; of being an object that experiences other objects, but is also understood outside of its control.”
Amaka traces her existence – both physical and existential – by integrating materials that mark, identify, and, ultimately, memorialize each moment. Maps, satellite images, earth, sand, and photographs are united with oil and acrylic paints, Sumi inks, graphite, and stains, resulting in works of art that are akin to documentary filmmaking.
“My visual work is of the things I cannot say. My essays are about the things I cannot draw,” adds Amaka. “I am interested in the psychological, sociological, and political nuances of visual language. I am most interested in casual social violence as well as the simple graces of daily living, in my role as a gazer as well as the gazed, in the poetry of consciously going through time with another person.”
“Beast” features approximately 20 works of art, including large-scale, banner-like paintings draping the gallery walls like processional flags. Smaller, map-like paintings offer insight to the artist’s ecologically-minded consciousness, as each reads as an aerial view from space of places like the Amazon, Africa, and San Francisco.
Amaka’s live performance, taking place at the opening reception, involves her active engagement with audience members. Seated in an oversized chair draped in cotton muslin, Amaka will mark a person’s scar (of their choosing) with ink and then transfer that onto three 3-inch cotton strips layered together. The artist keeps one of the strips; the individual keeps the other. The last strip is then mounted onto a canvas board, along with other participants’, as a means of memorializing their past and creating a new, possibly cathartic, experience.
The title “Beast” is a reminder to the artist that she is an “Animal;” and the exhibit reflects the artist’s primal instincts to observe, hunt, conquer, and declare her existence.
“[I] am a culmination of generations of life engineered to perfection beyond our comprehension,” says Amaka. “As a Beast, I will engage in this most awesome of playgrounds called Life. I will destroy and build and pollinate, so that when I fall – as all petals do – it will be a descent towards a momentum I helped cultivate.”
Nanci Amaka (b. 1982) was born in Nigeria, West Africa and has lived in the United States since 1993. She graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, earning a BA in Visual Critical Studies (2008) and received her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts (2010). Amaka currently lives and works in Santa Monica, California with her husband and their dog, Zebra.
BERMUDEZ PROJECTS | DOWNTOWN LA
117 West 9th Street, Space 810
Los Angeles, California 90015