Senga Nengudi
April 28–September 8, 2018
Berlin

A member of the African American avant-garde in Los Angeles and New York in the 1970s and 1980s, Senga Nengudi began her career with innovative sculptures and performances, staged within art spaces and beyond gallery walls, that expanded the definition of sculpture, engaged with performance art’s ephemeral nature, and questioned women’s delimited roles in contemporary culture. The exhibition features four recent sculptures from Nengudi’s celebrated R.S.V.P series, which the artist first began in the late 1970s in response to her changing pregnant body. Using nylon stockings, sand, and metal objects, Nengudi generates delicate, webbed and knotted forms that stretch across walls, from one wall to another, or from the wall to the floor. Though decidedly abstract, each sculpture assumes bodily stances and proportions.

 

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The exhibition features four recent sculptures from Nengudi’s celebrated R.S.V.P series, which the artist first began in the late 1970s in response to her changing pregnant body. Using nylon stockings, sand, and metal objects, Nengudi generates delicate, webbed and knotted forms that stretch across walls, from one wall to another, or from the wall to the floor. Though decidedly abstract, each sculpture assumes bodily stances and proportions. R.S.V.P. Reverie "Scribe" (2014) includes five strands of stockings that reach down to the floor, weighted by sand to create what looks like slender legs and feet. In R.S.V.P. Reverie "Bow Leg" (2014), a twisting metal armature takes on a skeletal quality, giving the loose nylons the appearance of papery skin. The stockings in Blossom (2014) and R.S.V.P. Reverie "Scribe" (2014) extend vertically, horizontally and diagonally across the gallery walls, with a strength that belies the simple, ethereal quality of her materials.

Nengudi likens the stretching of her sculptures' fabric to the resiliency of the female body and mind, and they have often served as the staging ground for performances incorporating actual bodies. Dancers, including the artist herself, move and manipulate the strands, bending and turning as they catch their limbs in the sculptures' nylon networks. Their contortions echo the ways in which women have had to conform to society's expectations, while the power inherent in their movements suggests a conviction to reshape the world. In the late 1970s, the artist took photographs of many of these performances, in addition to others in which she used similarly quotidian materials such as rubber tubing, ropes, and crumpled papers. Performers wear these materials as costumes of sorts, transforming into alien or insect-like beings. More than mere documentation, her images are carefully staged, often symmetrical in composition, and add to the power of her groundbreaking sculptural work. A selection of photographs will be presented in the exhibition.

 

Installation Views
Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin
Senga Nengudi
Installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, April 28–September 8, 2018

Senga Nengudi
Installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, April 28–September 8, 2018
Photo: Timo Ohler

Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin
Senga Nengudi
Installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, April 28–September 8, 2018

Senga Nengudi
Installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, April 28–September 8, 2018
Photo: Timo Ohler

Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin
Senga Nengudi
Installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, April 28–September 8, 2018

Senga Nengudi
Installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, April 28–September 8, 2018
Photo: Timo Ohler

Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin
Senga Nengudi
Installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, April 28–September 8, 2018

Senga Nengudi
Installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, April 28–September 8, 2018
Photo: Timo Ohler

Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin
Senga Nengudi
Installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, April 28–September 8, 2018

Senga Nengudi
Installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, April 28–September 8, 2018
Photo: Timo Ohler

Details
Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin

Senga Nengudi
Installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, April 28–September 8, 2018
Photo: Timo Ohler

Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin

Senga Nengudi
Installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, April 28–September 8, 2018
Photo: Timo Ohler

Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin

Senga Nengudi
Installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, April 28–September 8, 2018
Photo: Timo Ohler

Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin

Senga Nengudi
Installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, April 28–September 8, 2018
Photo: Timo Ohler

Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin

Senga Nengudi
Installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, April 28–September 8, 2018
Photo: Timo Ohler

Details
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1 of 5
Exhibited Works
Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin
Senga Nengudi
R.S.V.P. Reverie "Scribe", 2014

Senga Nengudi
R.S.V.P. Reverie 'Scribe', 2014
Nylon mesh, sand and found metals
231 × 137 × 170 cm
91 × 54 × 67 inches

Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin
Senga Nengudi
R.S.V.P. Reverie "D", 2014

Senga Nengudi
R.S.V.P. Reverie 'D', 2014
Nylon mesh, sand and copper
162.5 × 381 × 23 cm
64 × 150 × 9 inches

Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin
Senga Nengudi
R.S.V.P. Reverie "Bow Leg", 2014

Senga Nengudi
R.S.V.P. Reverie 'Bow Leg', 2014
Nylon mesh, found metal and bell
152.4 × 20.3 × 20.3 cm
60 × 8 × 8 inches

Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin
Senga Nengudi
Blossom, 2014

Senga Nengudi
Blossom, 2014
Nylon mesh and metal
184 × 26 × 19 cm
72 3/8 × 10 1/4 × 7 1/2 inches

Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin
Senga Nengudi
Performance Piece, 1978

Senga Nengudi
Performance Piece, 1978
Silver gelatin prints, triptych
101.6 × 80 cm
80 × 101.6 cm
80 × 101.6 cm
40 × 31 1/2 inches
31 1/2 × 40 inches
31 1/2 × 40 inches

Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin
Senga Nengudi
Rapunzel, 1981

Senga Nengudi
Rapunzel, 1981
Silver gelatin print
101.6 × 76.2 cm
40 × 30 inches

Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin
Senga Nengudi
Studio performance with R.S.V.P., 1976

Senga Nengudi
Studio performance with R.S.V.P., 1976
Silver gelatin print
73.7 × 101.6 cm
29 × 40 inches

Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin
Senga Nengudi
Study for Mesh Mirage, 1977

Senga Nengudi
Study for Mesh Mirage, 1977
Silver gelatin print
101.6 × 76.2 cm
40 × 30 inches

Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin
Senga Nengudi
Ceremony for Freeway Fets, 1978

Senga Nengudi
Ceremony for Freeway Fets, 1978
C-print
8 horizontal photographs. each: 30 × 45 cm
1 horizontal photograph: 34 × 44.5 cm
2 vertical photographs. each: 45 × 30 cm
8 horizontal photographs, each: 12 × 18 inches
1 horizontal photograph: 14 × 17 1/2 inches
2 vertical photographs, each: 18 × 12 inches

Details
Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin

Senga Nengudi
R.S.V.P. Reverie 'Scribe', 2014
Nylon mesh, sand and found metals
231 × 137 × 170 cm
91 × 54 × 67 inches

Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin

Senga Nengudi
R.S.V.P. Reverie 'D', 2014
Nylon mesh, sand and copper
162.5 × 381 × 23 cm
64 × 150 × 9 inches

Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin

Senga Nengudi
R.S.V.P. Reverie 'Bow Leg', 2014
Nylon mesh, found metal and bell
152.4 × 20.3 × 20.3 cm
60 × 8 × 8 inches

Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin

Senga Nengudi
Blossom, 2014
Nylon mesh and metal
184 × 26 × 19 cm
72 3/8 × 10 1/4 × 7 1/2 inches

Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin

Senga Nengudi
Performance Piece, 1978
Silver gelatin prints, triptych
101.6 × 80 cm
80 × 101.6 cm
80 × 101.6 cm
40 × 31 1/2 inches
31 1/2 × 40 inches
31 1/2 × 40 inches

Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin

Senga Nengudi
Rapunzel, 1981
Silver gelatin print
101.6 × 76.2 cm
40 × 30 inches

Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin

Senga Nengudi
Studio performance with R.S.V.P., 1976
Silver gelatin print
73.7 × 101.6 cm
29 × 40 inches

Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin

Senga Nengudi
Study for Mesh Mirage, 1977
Silver gelatin print
101.6 × 76.2 cm
40 × 30 inches

Senga Nengudi – Senga Nengudi – Berlin

Senga Nengudi
Ceremony for Freeway Fets, 1978
C-print
8 horizontal photographs. each: 30 × 45 cm
1 horizontal photograph: 34 × 44.5 cm
2 vertical photographs. each: 45 × 30 cm
8 horizontal photographs, each: 12 × 18 inches
1 horizontal photograph: 14 × 17 1/2 inches
2 vertical photographs, each: 18 × 12 inches

Details
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Selected Press

Was Nylon bewegt: Senga Nengudis Körperarbeiten
taz, article by Naomi Molit, May 24, 2019

“Being Born Black in America Is a Political Act”: An Interview With Senga Nengudi
Hyperallergic,interview by Anna Souter, September 26, 2018

Senga Nengudi bei Sprüth Magers Zeigt her eure Beine 
Der Tagesspiegel, article by Lorina Speder, May 1, 2018

Die Sache mit den Nylonstrümpfen
Berliner Morgenpost, article by Angela Hohmann, June 28, 2018

Here Are 5 Women Artists Who Dominated Berlin Gallery Weekend, Despite Evidence of German Gender Bias
Artnet News, article by Kate Brown, May 3, 2018 

Senga Nengudi at Sprüth Magers, Berlin
Blouin Artinfo, article, July 2, 2018

Poetic Energies and Radical Celebrations
Carla, article by Simone Kurg, May 12, 2018

Senga Nengudi – Solo Show
C& Contemporary And, article, June 2018

Yield to touch 
Frieze, Interview by Osei Bonsu, October 2018

Lizenz zum Rumspinnen 
Weltkunst, article, September 2018