Night Gallery’s 2021 Frieze London presentation focuses upon the powerful ability of women artists to contextualize their environments and place their lived experiences in-dialogue with broader social, cultural, and political phenomena through their chosen mediums. Throughout the presentation, considerations of the body, identity, and history address the close proximity between individual and collective experience. These entanglements are proven to be personal and political, metaphysical and palpable, enduring and prescient. Each artists’ work differently explores the dimensions of action and agency to arrive at testaments to resilience.
Some works release energy stored within the body: Brie Ruais’ ceramic work maps the artist’s myriad relationships with her own body weight’s worth of clay. Han Bing’s abstract oil paintings take inspiration from the fragmented visual experience of urban space, conveying the psychological impacts of cityscape and the struggle to assert oneself within its cacophony. Other works depict the body as a site of temporal assemblage: Jesse Mockrin’s paintings masterfully quote passages from throughout art history, reassembling fragments of moving bodies to suggest cycles of violence across time. Tomashi Jackson’s work documents the legacy of the body as an agent of societal change, in mixed-media paintings that use a patchwork of found materials as a backdrop for hand-painted reproductions of photographs from key moments in the development of civil rights policy in the United States. These include images of the signing of key acts of legislation as well as documented incidents of voter suppression. Danielle Mckinney looks to present-day sources—including social media platforms and fashion magazines—to reimagine depictions of the human form into distinct narratives of the unconscious. Meanwhile, Divya Mehra’s newest work in neon captures the projection of false selfhood into voided space, prompting a critical examination of racial deception and performative identity. Across disciplines, these artists derive strength from legacies of struggle, respond to political and art historical traditions, and find room to at once acknowledge violence and reclaim power.