Frieze Masters 2021 - Lévy Gorvy

Viewing Room

Frieze Masters 2021

Booth E09

Preview Dates: October 13–14, 2021
Public Dates: October 15–17, 2021

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Lévy Gorvy is pleased to announce its participation in Frieze Masters with a presentation dedicated to the profound friendship of Carrie Mae Weems (b. 1953) and Terry Adkins (1953–2014). At Booth E09, Lévy Gorvy channels the artists’ dialogue with a selection of works that exemplify Weems’s unparalleled inquiry into constructions of power, history, and identity and Adkins’s singular approach to abstraction. In an interview commissioned by the gallery, Weems describes meeting Adkins in the early ’90s: “We spent a lot of time together, going to see things together, critiquing things together. We had very strong opinions about what was happening out there in the art world as we saw it.” Drawing on this conversation, the presentation suggests points of overlap and intersection between the artists’ work. Each reconceived the conventions of portraiture, for example, variously incorporating performativity, experimental approaches to materials, and music. And importantly, both artists have been dedicated to revising incomplete or marginalized histories of Afrodiasporic culture.

In her photo series Blue Notes (2014–15), for instance, Weems appropriates historical images of largely Black figures and covers their faces with solid blocks of color—symbols of European and American modernism. The images are blurred and tinted blue, such that the pictured subjects recede behind the dominant monochromatic shapes. In music, blue notes, characteristic of blues and jazz, are those that fall between the cracks of conventional pitch. With these portraits, Weems penetrates the space of representation, surfacing the real and imagined narratives that accompany the act of looking.

Or take Adkins’s Adnachiel (2012), which belongs to a series of sculptures that examine Jimi Hendrix’s creative output through the lens of the musician’s military service. The work, an “abstract portrait,” comprises a parachute draped atop a microphone stand, referencing the complicated fact of Hendrix’s training as a paratrooper in the early 1960s. In an undated text, Adkins described his first encounter with Hendrix’s music and his fierce dissent against racism, military might, and injustice as an “epiphany” that opened his consciousness onto “otherworldly vistas.” The work reflects Adkins’s animistic notion of “potential disclosure,” wherein found objects reveal dormant lives and histories.

Across the resonant oeuvres of Weems and Adkins are significant contributions to the subversion and recontextualization of the historical record and its agendas— propositions and negotiations that enable us to look, listen, and think anew.