Simone Leigh: Loophole of Retreat

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, United States
19 Apr 2019 - 04 Aug 2019

SIMONE LEIGH, “The Village Series #4,” 2018 (stoneware, 45.1 x 21 x 25.4). |© Simone Leigh, Courtesy the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York

SIMONE LEIGH, “The Village Series #4,” 2018 (stoneware, 45.1 x 21 x 25.4). |© Simone Leigh, Courtesy the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York

From April 19 to August 4, 2019, an exhibition of new work by artist Simone Leigh, winner of the Hugo Boss Prize 2018, will be on view at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

Leigh’s presentation will encompass a suite of sculptures and a sound installation, as well as a text by the renowned historian Saidiya Hartman that will be available as a broadsheet. Selected by a jury of international critics and curators, Leigh is the twelfth artist to receive the biennial prize, which was established in 1996 to recognize significant achievement in contemporary art.

The Hugo Boss Prize 2018: Simone Leigh, Loophole of Retreat is organized by Katherine Brinson, Daskalopoulos Curator, Contemporary Art, and Susan Thompson, Associate Curator, with Amara Antilla, Assistant Curator. The Hugo Boss Prize and the exhibition are made possible by HUGO BOSS.

Over the course of a career that spans the mediums of sculpture, video, and social practice, Leigh has continuously and insistently centered the black female experience. Her sculptural forms, rendered in materials such as ceramic and bronze, unify a timeless beauty with valences that are both deeply personal and piercingly political. Summoning the ancient archetype of the female nude and inflecting it with vernacular and folk traditions, Leigh merges the human body with domestic vessels or architectural elements, evoking the immeasurable labors of care and protection that have historically fallen to women.

In Loophole of Retreat, Leigh will explore narratives of communal nurture, resilience, and resistance. The title of the exhibition and related public program is drawn from the writings of Harriet Jacobs (1813–1897), a formerly enslaved abolitionist who pseudonymously published an account of her life. It refers to the grueling seven years she spent hiding from her master in a tiny crawl space beneath the rafters of her grandmother’s home—an act of astonishing fortitude that carved out a space of sanctuary and autonomy in defiance of an unjust reality.

In October Leigh was selected as the winner of the Hugo Boss Prize 2018 from a short list of six finalists that also included Bouchra Khalili, Teresa Margolles, Emeka Ogboh, Frances Stark, and Wu Tsang. The members of the 2018 jury were Dan Fox, Editor-at-Large, Frieze magazine; Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, Director, Witte de With, Rotterdam; the late Bisi Silva, former Artistic Director, Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos; Susan Thompson, Associate Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and Joan Young, Director, Curatorial Affairs, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The 2018 jury was chaired by Nancy Spector, Artistic Director and Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

Public Program

“Loophole of Retreat”: A Conference
Saturday, April 27, 1 pm
This daylong gathering dedicated to the intellectual life of black women will bring together an international constellation of writers, artists, poets, filmmakers, and activists. Artist and Hugo Boss Prize 2018 winner Simone Leigh, feminist scholar Tina Campt (Barnard College), and cultural historian Saidiya Hartman (Columbia University) have invited a distinguished group of participants to present papers, performances, and conversations on subjects of their choosing. Presenters include Vanessa Agard-Jones, Rizvana Bradley, Dionne Brand, Aimee Meredith Cox, Denise Ferreira da Silva, Zakiyyah Iman Jackson, Grada Kilomba, Lorraine O’Grady, Okwui Okpokwasili, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, Christina Sharpe, Françoise Verges, and Simone White. $15, $10 members, free for students with RSVP. For more information, visit guggenheim.org/calendar.

Film Program
The exhibition will be accompanied by a daily film program presenting works by Simone Leigh and filmmaker Madeleine Hunt Ehrlich. Screenings take place in the New Media Theater, Level B, and are free with admission. For more information and the schedule, visit guggenheim.org/films.

The Guggenheim’s publication The Hugo Boss Prize 2018 comprises a compilation of six foldout posters, one for each nominated artist. Each poster features a work by a nominated artist on one side, with an essay by an acclaimed writer or thinker about the artist’s practice on the reverse. Including texts by Diana Nawi; Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi; Taiyana Pimentel; Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts; Frances Stark and an anonymous associate; and Fred Moten, boychild, and Wu Tsang, the posters are presented within a slipcase along with an introduction by Susan Thompson, Associate Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and a foreword by Dr. Hjördis Kettenbach, Head of Cultural Affairs, HUGO BOSS, AG. Designed by Alex Lin of Studio Lin, New York, the publications is available for $40 from the Guggenheim Store or online at guggenheimstore.org.

Simone Leigh (b. 1967, Chicago) lives and works in Brooklyn. Solo presentations of her work have been hosted at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Marcus Garvey Park, New York (organized by the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; both 2016–17); New Museum, New York (2016); Atlanta Contemporary Art Center; Stuyvesant Mansion, Brooklyn (organized by Creative Time, New York; both 2014); and The Kitchen, New York (2012). The artist’s work has also been featured in numerous group exhibitions, including the Berlin Biennial (2018); Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon, New Museum, New York (2017–18); Unconventional Clay: Engaged in Change, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri (2016); Greater New York, MoMA PS1, Long Island City (2015–16); Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (traveled to Grey Art Gallery, New York University; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco [2012–15]); The Dakar Biennial (2014); Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2012); 30 Seconds Off an Inch, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2009–10); The Future as Disruption, The Kitchen, New York; and Intersections: Defensive Mechanisms, Abrons Art Center, New York (both 2008). Her work has been recognized with awards and honors from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, New York (2018); Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2017); A Blade of Grass, New York (2016); John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, New York (both 2016); Creative Capital, New York (2012); and the Joan Mitchell Foundation (2011).




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