The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. It’s not as simple as a wide range of media, advertisements or political propaganda tend to suggest. Although asserting power through simplifying notions and images of good and bad seems to function better than ever before. The more complex and unstable our global political reality, the more calculable and effective, it seems, is the appropriation and circulation of key visuals and slogans through blunt emotional outbursts of shares, likes, or dislikes on social media. It is not by chance that for the show’s title Neïl Beloufa adopts only part of the notorious ancient proverb, which has been reused as a doctrine in various foreign policy conflicts and wars all around the world, and leaves out the rest. It is as if he is putting us to the test, like the eponymous quest in the video game World of Warcraft.
This timely Zoe Leonard retrospective comes on the heels of the recent widespread and enthusiastic re-circulation of her 1992 manifesto I want a president, the culmination of which was its turn as a mural on the High Line in New York from October 2016 to March 2017. That piece is present here alongside photographs taken between 1986 and 2016; the fictional photo archive Leonard created for Cheryl Dunye’s 1996 film The Watermelon Woman; and sculptural works including her iconic Strange Fruit (1992-1997) and a stacked book sculpture from this year.
This new work arose from several things coming together. My wife and I always have morning coffee together in bed where we chat about everything. During this time, especially in the spring we would become mesmerized by the slowly changing sunlight shining in through the waving trees and through the window, onto our bedroom wall.
We are educated to think that everything can be repaired, and when we face something that really challenges us, we freak out; we suffer. I think what I'm trying to do by putting the repair in the center of my practice is to challenge this sort of blindness we have towards injury or illness, the idea that everything needs to be repaired. No, I don't think so, and I think it's more of a psychic matter today to learn to live with our own injuries.
NXIETIN is the latest iteration of a performance collaboration between Hannah Black, Ebba Fransén Waldhör, and Soraya Lutangu (Bonaventure), loosely centered around the idea of a superhero figure called Anxietina. NXIETIN is an attempt to build a mythic infrastructure around the pervasive anxiety of the everyday: her superpower is an anxiety that is both her own and an undifferentiated collective energy.