His hair is long, his feet are hard and gritty
He spends his life walkin’ the streets of New York city
He’s almost dead from breathin’ in air pollution
He tried to vote but to him there’s no solution
Living just enough, just enough for the city
I hope you hear inside my voice of sorrow
And that it motivates you to make a better tomorrow
This place is cruel nowhere could be much colder
If we don’t change the world will soon be over
Living just enough, stop giving just enough for the city
Stevie Wonder, Living for the City, 1974
Goodman Gallery presents Living Just Enough, an exhibition which seeks to acknowledge and contextualise the current global reckoning with white supremacy and structural racism led by the Black Lives Matter movement.
The exhibition takes its title from a refrain in Stevie Wonder’s 1974 hit “Living for the City”. The song tells the story of a young Black man who moves to New York from Mississippi and his experiences of hardships born of systemic racism. These difﬁculties reﬂect challenges faced by black people around the world, which continue unabated to this day.
Living Just Enough features work by artists of varying generations who respond to these conditions from historic perspectives and in relation to the current global moment – a state of deepened rupture exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The diverse practices of each artist intersect with different forms of activism which oppose gender based violence, homophobia, transphobia and the erasure of the culture of indigenous peoples.
Through these intergenerational voices, the exhibition seeks to further conversations about the continuities and discontinuities that characterise the struggles of respective eras. Represented here are various collectives of Black artists whose work has redeﬁned representation in the global art world. These include the US Civil Rights-era Black Arts Movement of which Faith Ringgold was associated; Fred Wilson and Lorraine O’Grady, who were part of the JAM (Just Above Midtown) laboratory artists of 1970s New York; Sonia Boyce, a member of the British Black Arts movement who articulated the voices of Black artists in the turbulent 1980s and the young South African collective NTU, which was formed in 2015 and includes artists Nolan Oswald Dennis and Tabita Rezaire.
Several visual threads run through the exhibition, connecting practices across time and space. One such thread is that of the political poster: while Faith Ringgold’s iconic 1970s work Woman Free Yourself reﬂects her Black Feminist politics of the time, Carrie Mae Weems’s Take 6 poster project seeks to spread awareness about the effect of COVID-19 on Black and Brown communities today. Kudzanai Chiurai’s To Walk Barefoot (2020) painting is a pastiche and homage to posters generated for the purpose of inciting political action during Zimbabwe’s turbulent 1970s. Hank Willis Thomas’s work, Give Us Back our Parents(2018) also references posters from recent African history – here they are made by the children of detained activists in South Africa during the apartheid era.
A number of featured artists point out possible next steps. In The Redefining the Power series, Kiluanji Kia Henda stages photographs of people on the empty plinths of Luanda where colonial statues once stood, questioning just how Africa wishes to position itself historically; possibly inventing a new history. Similarly, Thomas J Price’s figurative sculptures of imagined subjects – usually male and black – provides alternative ways of thinking about the prevalent culture of statues and monuments in the West. Tabita Rezaire’s Sorry for Real series addresses the politics around apologising for slavery and colonialism as well as associated calls for reparations.
The exhibition marks the UK debut of Arthur Jafa’s film akindoncomethas, a montage of found footage depicting impassioned sermons and song that testify to the social and cultural force of the African-American Christian tradition. There is an equal parts reckoning with our moment of secular rupture and the concept of religious rapture, which curator Thomas J Lax describes as “a faith in the possibility of life after catastrophe”. 1
Goodman Gallery is acutely aware that the COVID-19 pandemic affects Black people and people of Colour disproportionately
and would like to use the exhibition as a vehicle to support these communities and to continue our commitment to social justice.
As such a donation of 10% of each sale from this exhibition will be made to two existing entities who are foregrounding Black lives:
Johannesburg’s Witkoppen Clinic, a healthcare facility providing essential services to impoverished, largely Black, communities on the margins of the city (https://www.witkoppen.org/). Since opening a gallery in London this time last year, Goodman Gallery has partnered with artists to raise funds for the Clinic, which is under especially high pressure at this time.
The second donation source is the Black Lives Matter movement (https://blacklivesmatter.com/) who continue to do important work in breaking down structural racism which oppresses Black people in the US and globally.
1 Thomas J. Lax. MoMA Curator, Department of Media and Performance. A Rehearsal for Communion: On Arthur Jafa’s akingdoncomethas. link to text
Tabita Rezaire (b.1989, Paris, France) is infinity incarnated into an agent of healing, who uses art as a means to unfold the soul. Her cross-dimensional practices envision network sciences – organic, electronic and spiritual – as healing technologies to serve the shift towards heart consciousness. Navigating digital, corporeal and ancestral memory as sites of resilience, she digs into scientific imaginaries to tackle the pervasive matrix of coloniality and the protocols of energetic misalignments that affect the songs of our body-mind-spirits. Inspired by quantum and cosmic mechanics, Tabita’s work is rooted in time-spaces where technology and spirituality intersect as fertile ground to nourish visions of connection and emancipation. Through screen interfaces and collective offerings, she reminds us to open our inner data centers to bypass western authority and download directly from source.
Tabita is based in Cayenne, French Guyana. She has a Bachelor in Economics (Fr) and a Master of Research in Artist Moving Image from Central Saint Martins (Uk). Tabita is a founding member of the artist group NTU, half of the duo Malaxa, and the mother of the energy house SENEB.
Tabita has shown her work internationally – Centre Pompidou, Paris; Serpentine London; MoMa NY; New Museum NY; MASP, Sao Paulo; Gropius Bau Berlin; MMOMA Moscow, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; ICA London; V&A London; National Gallery Denmark; The Broad LA; MoCADA NY; Tate Modern London; Museum of Modern Art Paris – and contributed to several Biennales such as the Guangzhou Triennial, Athens Biennale, Kochi Biennale (2018); Performa (2017); and Berlin Biennale (2016).
Nolan Oswald Dennis (b. 1988, Zambia) is an interdisciplinary artist from Johannesburg, South Africa. His practice explores what he calls ‘a black consciousness of space’: the material and metaphysical conditions of decolonization.
Born in Lusaka, Zambia and raised in Midrand, South Africa. He holds a Bachelors degree in architecture from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and a Masters of Science in Art, Culture and Technology for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Dennis’ work questions the politics of space and time through a system-specific, rather than site-specific approach. He is concerned with the hidden structures that pre-determine the limits of our social and political imagination. Through a language of diagrams, drawings and models he explores a hidden landscape of systematic and structural conditions that organise our political sub-terrain. This sub-space is framed by systems which transverse multiple realms (technical, spiritual economic, psychological, etc) and therefore Dennis’ work can be seen as an attempt to stitch these, sometime opposed, sometimes complimentary, systems together. To read technological systems alongside spiritual systems, to combine political fictions with science fiction.
Nolan is the 2016 winner of the FNB Arts Prize, and has exhibited in various solo and group shows, including the 9th Berlin Biennale (2016), the Young Congo Biennale (2019), Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), Architekturmuseum der TU München, among others. He is participating in upcoming exhibitions at Palais de Tokyo (Paris), Le Lieu Unique (Nantes), and the Goodman Gallery, and is a 2020 artist in residence at NTUCCA (Singapore).
Hank Willis Thomas (b. 1976, New Jersey, United States) is a conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to perspective, identity, commodity, media, and popular culture.
Thomas has exhibited throughout the United States and abroad including the International Center of Photography, New York; Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain; Musée du quai Branly, Paris; Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong, and the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Netherlands.
Thomas’ work is included in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Brooklyn Museum, New York; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
His collaborative projects include Question Bridge: Black Males, In Search Of The Truth (The Truth Booth), Writing on the Wall, and the artist-run initiative for art and civic engagement For Freedoms, which in 2017 was awarded the ICP Infinity Award for New Media and Online Platform. Thomas is also the recipient of the Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship (2019), the Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (2018), Art for Justice Grant (2018), AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize (2017), Soros Equality Fellowship (2017), and is a member of the New York City Public Design Commission. Thomas holds a B.F.A. from New York University (1998) and an M.A./M.F.A. from the California College of the Arts (2004). In 2017, he received honorary doctorates from the Maryland Institute of Art and the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts.
Kiluanji Kia Henda (b. 1979, Luanda, Angola) employs a surprising sense of humour in his work, which often hones in on themes of identity, politics, and perceptions of post-colonialism and modernism in Africa. Kia Henda brings a critical edge to his multidisciplinary practice, which incorporates photography, video, and performance. Informed by a background surrounded by photography enthusiasts, Kia Henda’s conceptual-based work has further been sharpened by exposure to music, avant-garde theatre, and collaborations with a collective of emerging artists in Luanda’s art scene. Much of Kia Henda’s work draws on history through the appropriation and manipulation of public spaces and structures, and the different representations that form part of collective memory, in order to produce complex, yet powerful imagery.
Kia Henda has had solo exhibitions in galleries and institutions around the world. His work has featured on biennales in Venice, Dakar, São Paulo and Gwanju as well as major travelling exhibitions such as Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design and The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory revisited by Contemporary African Artists. In 2019, Kia Henda’s work was acquired by Tate Modern in London, and he was selected to participate on the Unlimited sector at Art Basel. In 2020 Kia Henda will be shown at the MAN Museo d’Arte Provincia di Nuoro in Italy, marking his first major solo exhibition in a European museum.
Kia Henda currently lives and works between Luanda and Lisbon.
Kudzanai Chiurai (b. 1981, Zimbabwe) was born one year after Zimbabwe’s emergence from white-ruled Rhodesia. Chiurai incorporates various media into his practice, which is largely focused around cycles of political, economic and social strife present in post-colonial societies.
Chiurai’s artwork confronts viewers with the psychological and physical experience of African metropolises. From large mixed media works and paintings to photography and video, Chiurai tackles some of the most pressing issues facing these environments, such as xenophobia, displacement and inequality.
Chiurai has held numerous solo exhibitions since 2003 and has participated in various local and international exhibitions, such as Figures & Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography (2011) at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to Now (2011) at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Other notable exhibitions include The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited curated by Simon Njami at Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt (2014) and SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah USA (2015), as well as Art/Afrique, Le nouvel atelier (2017) at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, Regarding the Ease of Others (2017) at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Genesis [Je n’isi isi]- We Live in Silence at IFA in Stuttgart, Germany and Ubuntu, a Lucid Dream (2020) at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.
Chiurai’s Conflict Resolution series was exhibited at dOCUMENTA (13) (2012) in Kassel and the film Iyeza was one of the few African films to be included in the New Frontier shorts programme at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013. Chiurai has held numerous solo exhibitions with Goodman Gallery and has edited four publications with contributions by leading African creatives.
At present the artist lives and works in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Grada Kilomba (b. 1968, Lisbon, Portugal) is an interdisciplinary artist, whose work draws on memory, trauma, gender and post-colonialism, interrogating concepts of knowledge, power and violence. “What stories are told? How are they told? And told by whom?” are constant questions in Kilomba’s body of work, to revise post-colonial narratives.
Kilomba subversively translates text into image, movement and installation, by giving body, voice and form to her own critical writing. Performance, staged reading, video, photography, publications and installation are a platform for Kilomba’s unique practice of storytelling, which intentionally disrupts the proverbial ‘white cube’ through a new and urgent decolonial language and imagery.
Her work has been presented in major international events such as: La Biennale de Lubumbashi VI; 10. Berlin Biennale; Documenta 14, Kassel; 32. Bienal de São Paulo. Selected solo and group exhibitions include the Pinacoteca de São Paulo; Bildmuseet, Umeå; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris; The Power Plant, Toronto; Maxim Gorki Theatre, Berlin; MAAT-Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, Lisbon; Secession Museum, Vienna; Bozar Museum, Brussels; PAC-Pavillion Art Contemporanea, Milan, among others. Kilomba’s work features in public and private collections worldwide.
Strongly influenced by the work of Frantz Fanon, Kilomba studied Freundian Psychoanalysis in Lisbon – at ISPA, and there she worked with war survivors from Angola and Mozambique. Early on she started writing and publishing stories, before extending her interests into staging, image, sound and movement.
Kilomba holds a distinguished Doctorate in Philosophy from the Freie Universität Berlin. She has lectured at several international universities, such as the University of Ghana and the Vienna University of Arts, and was a Guest Professor at the Humboldt Universität Berlin, Department of Gender Studies. For several years, she was a guest artist at the Maxim Gorki Theatre, in Berlin, developing Kosmos 2, a political intervention with refugee artists. She is the author of the acclaimed “Plantation Memories” (Unrast, 2008) a compilation of episodes of everyday racism written in the form of short psychoanalytical stories. Her book has been translated into several languages, and was listed as the most important non-fiction literature in Brazil, 2019.
The artist lives and works in Berlin.