Nicole Awai presents work at High Line, Lesley Heller Gallery and more

In the final stop of the exhibition tour across five cities around America, New Monuments for New Cities opens today, September 26, on the High Line in New York City. The exhibition, on view through October 23, 2019, includes Studio Art Assistant Professor Nicole Awai's Reclaimed Water—CC'd. Awai will also participate as a panelist at the High Line Network Symposium on October 17, in a conversation about her work and what it means to view monuments through the lens of arts and urbanism. She is joined by Commissioner for the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Tom Finkelpearl and artists Judith Bernstein, Guerilla Girls, Xaviera Simmons and Hans Haacke.

From High Line Art, "For New Monuments for New Cities, 25 artists or artist groups from across the United States and Canada designed posters of monuments—both possible and impossible to build—that question the format of monuments and envision their future. They span from proposals for traditional monuments, to revised historical statues, to newly imagined methods of public commemoration. They take the form of drawings, photographs, renderings, “missing pet” posters, Wikipedia pages, bold text-based statements, collages, and more. These 25 artworks address questions around permanence, representation, public space, land ownership, and the writing and re-writing of history."

Awai spoke about her participation in the New Monuments for New Cities project in a recent episode of the Monument Lab's podcast, where she discussed the humor involved in her presentation of a monument for Columbus,

Humor is almost like a means to maintain order because we can't always be angry, upset, crying. So, we have to laugh, and I think humor also helps us sort of redirect us to a place of understanding and, once again, of connectedness and unity. The poster is called Reclaim Water - CC'd, and that "cc'd" is "Christopher Columbused" as an action, the action of what Christopher Columbus' legacy has done to all of us in every way....It also relates to this whole idea of time passing and technologies. CC is carbon copied, and then that term moved from that into the world of the internet and email when cc is still sort of copy.  

Over the summer months, Awai's work was presented at the Delaware Art Museum in the conclusion of its PST: LA/LA run with Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of The Caribbean Archipelago, at Barbara Davis Gallery in the group exhibition Summer Affairs, and within the group exhibition Figuring the Floral at Wave Hill gallery. The exhibition was reviewed in Hyperallergic with the writer Ilana Novick stating, "The works in Figuring the Floral start a conversation, collaborate, and even merge with Wave Hill’s flowers. As the website notes, the life cycle of flowers reflects that of humans. In both we see sorrowful death and joyous growth."

This fall, Awai's work can be seen in a solo exhibition, Envisioning the Liquid Land, at Lesley Heller Gallery opening on October 30, 2019. "The motif of the ‘Ooze’ for example has long inhabited Awai’s work, first making its appearance in 2001," writes Lesley Heller Gallery. "It is once again present in Envisioning the Liquid Land as an embodying relief element 'permeating irrepressible and unrelenting accumulation of our present and past psychological, political and physical reality.' 

It is a material that to her consumes and mirrors all that it encounters. Some of her pieces are more abstract, while others are specifically representational. Consistent throughout though are the purposely ambiguous spatial familiarities; a multitude of parts that combine into a complex mixture of visual and symbolic elements.

Awai does provide her own version of a map legend within the works though in the form of The Sensation Code. A returning element from her long running series Specimens from Local Ephemera (2003–2011), The Sensation Code is a method of demarcation, naming, placing, situating, assignment and identification. It consists of chips of nail polish lacquers arranged and listed with their corresponding manufacture’s color names and cosmetic company’s designations. This legend—with names like Invincible, Black and Blue or All the White Stuff—is there for viewers to use as they will, at their will.

Envisioning the Liquid Land will be on view from October 30 – December 21, 2019.

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