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Sprüth Magers

Senga Nengudi at Sprüth Magers

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Opening at Sprüth Magers today (Aug 18) is a solo exhibition by Senga Nengudi which includes two large scale installation works. Nengudi is known for her performance and dance alongside her infamous “R.S.V.P.” sculpture series, which includes nylon stockings filled with sand and displayed in ways that evoke an abstract human form. Refreshingly, this exhibition highlights two lesser-known installations: “Bulemia” (1988/2018) and “Sandmining” (2018).

For “Bulemia,” a room plastered wall-to-wall with newspaper clippings, Nengudi culled pages from her mother’s newspaper collection featuring notable events relating to Black individuals. In the installation, the pages are laid out flat at the top of each wall, though as they descend the room, they become flayed out in voluminous layers, leading to a row of tightly compressed balls that line the floor.

Nengudi uses gold spray paint to conceal various areas of text, only allowing the viewer to see more positive aspects of each news story. In an interview with the Smithsonian, Nengudi explained, “I chose to pull out that which can build your confidence… instead of it saying, ‘A Man Kills a Woman and Nothing is Left but a Diamond,’ I would black that out — not cut it out, but spray it out — and then find the words within that article that were self-affirming or positive.” Thus, Nengudi selectively reframes the way that Black life is depicted in the media, crafting a narrative that privileges complexity over singularity.