Malik Gaines // October 8, 2020

Statues of Limitations
Malik Gaines
October 8, 2020

In this talk, I’ll discuss my attention to U.S. American monuments, monumental art works, and performances that surround them. These objects materialize the active contestation of territorial space, and conjoin different modes of representation (aesthetic, political, linguistic) in forms that depict the doing of sovereignty, and in so doing, its potential undoing. This research has become highly unwieldy in our present moment, offering a sense of the precarity of “over-representation,” a term I borrow from Sylvia Wynter to describe both the depictions that support white-supremacy, and the extra-ness with which it so often appears.

Malik Gaines writes, composes, and performs and is associate professor of Performance Studies at New York University. His book Black Performance on the Outskirts of the Left (2017) traces political ideas through performances of the 1960s and beyond. His next book project, which has been supported by a Warhol Foundation grant, explores contemporary artworks and performances that act at the limits of national sovereignty. His writing about art and performance has appeared in Art Journal, Women & Performance, Artforum and many others, and he has written essays for numerous exhibition catalogues and artist’s books, most recently for artists Lorraine O’Grady, Jacolby Satterwhite, Kehinde Wiley, Senga Nengudi, Pope.L, The Judson Dance Theater, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, and Ed Bereal. He has performed and exhibited extensively with the group My Barbarian, which was included in the Whitney Biennial, two California Biennials, two Performa Biennials, the Montreal Biennial and the Baltic Triennial, among many other showings. The group is currently planning a 20-year survey of their work to open fall 2021 at the Whitney Museum. Gaines also makes performance work in other collaborations and solo, including “Star Choir,” a current music and video collaboration with Alexandro Segade.

Photo caption: Kehinde Wiley, “Rumors of War” unveiling, Richmond, VA. A tarp is stuck during the unveiling ceremony for a statue titled Rumor’s of War by artist Kehinde Wiley at the Virginia Museum of Fine arts in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)