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Jeffrey Deitch

Nari Ward at Jeffrey Deitch

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Nari Ward’s “Say Can You See” immediately evokes themes of Americana. The artist works with found objects — shoes, clothing, bottles, oven pans, fire hoses, church pews — that embody a rich material history and symbolism. For the central work, “Still Lives with Step Ladders,” the artist took inspiration from memorials that popped up in his neighborhood in Harlem over the last year, and how the flowers, bottles, and photographs often look like Morandi-esque still lifes. 

The large arrangement of bottles, suitcases, and other items has been wrapped in charred and frayed black security cloth. Some objects rest atop ladders that have been filled with cement to form pyramid-like alters. The show’s title work is a large American flag that hangs vertically down a wall, bedazzled edge to edge with plastic security tags. The work is concise, and anchors the mass consumer culture showcased throughout the rest of the exhibition, speaking to the vast disparity of class and economic experiences in our country.

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Photo: “Shattered Glass,” curated by Melahn Frierson and AJ Girard, Jeffrey Deitch, Los Angeles, 2021. Photo by Joshua White.