DUPLEX IS PLEASED TO PRESENT bury the bridge, a group exhibition featuring work by Nissa Nishikawa, Alice Gong Xiaowen, and Aminah Ibrahim.
Living between worlds, countries and cultures, a bridge was constructed with an assemblage of tools and alternate histories of force and gravity. To be present on the bridge is to be in a place of reflection, slowing to a pause to take in the view and accept the direction. It is a crossing between a momentary action, an ongoing transition, a happening towards a destination never fully reached. Bridging spirit and materiality, the bridge becomes a necessary home forged with an ancient, immediate, and malleable memory. The bridge and the mechanism of the human body become one, a channel for mutation, a medium for a message challenging to translate. Skin is tight—the body is the vehicle and the foundation. The physics evolves and the bridge breaks. Dismantling and blurring, we bury the bridge and we grieve its architecture, honoring the currents that have brought us here. To bury is to plant, to grow—here, we rejoice.
For Aminah Ibrahim’s first curatorial project, they have been moved to present Nissa Nishikawa, Alice Gong Xiaowen, and Ibrahim’s own artworks together in conversation. Supported by a diversity of spiritual and movement educations, Nishikawa’s multidisciplinary practice slows down to tune into subtle senses through a continual return to the earth while simultaneously transcending the earthly. Rooted in the material traditions of her heritage, Gong Xiaowen’s sculptural practice is a convergence of layers; a translation of nonverbal gestures, those inherited and atrophied, into cast mediums that become profoundly new. Attaching sensibilities of ephemerality to sculptural works, Ibrahim is creating instruments for the body, sounding space in flesh. Synchronistically crossing paths, the work of these artists embodies a different method of movement: how else can we cross?
Nissa Nishikawa’s multidisciplinary practice is comprised of performance, poetry, ceramics, glass and film. Nishikawa researches and interprets traditional forms of dance, ritual and craft in ways that illuminate animistic and alchemical philosophies with an embodied and structural approach. She often works in the open-air and studios equipped to house fire; interconnecting the layers of the arcane with the supra-sensual, the living earth and various conscious inhabitants.
Recent site-specific performances include the Archaeological Zone Tepozteco, Mexico and Abu Gorab Temple, Egypt. She has exhibited work with various spaces such as Harlseden High Street/Diasporas Now (London), Bethnal Green Nature Reserve (London), Mexican Arts Society (London), Wellcome Collection (London), Galerie D’art Contemporain Mohamed Drissi (Tangier), Saint Leonard’s Church (London) and Camden Arts Centre (London). Workshops have been offered at The British University of Egypt (Cairo), Het Nieuwe Instituut (Rotterdam), American Language Centres in Morocco, Volte Gallery (India), Victoria and Albert Museum (London) and the Royal College of Art (London).
Nishikawa holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Concordia University, Montréal) and Masters in Performance (Goldsmiths, London). She studied Stage Arts at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (London) and trained in her formative years with the dancer/farmer Min Tanaka in Yamanashi, Japan.
Nishikawa is Canadian/Japanese and currently based in London, UK.
For Alice Gong Xiaowen, translation is both method and subject. The ephemeral becomes solid. Light becomes heft. The lowly hallowed. Memory becomes matter. The familiar becomes alien and the domestic industrial. Bodies become texts. She casts dough, pinched with the seams of the dumpling wrappers her grandmother taught her to make, into steel, itself made from pig iron through a process of chemical translation—literalizing the ingots they symbolize. And she does so in the American mills where men once manufactured steel for the railroads before the production was offshored to China—two nations she is from but neither to which she belongs. The resulting figures emerge like entrails freshly excised—the kind that used to be steamed and read—their pinches now sutures straining to hold the impossible together.
They say: Much is lost in translation. Other things are gained. And yet others are, like Gong Xiaowen, caught in between—neither this nor that, here nor there, us nor them.
–Robert Morris Levine
Alice Gong Xiaowen, (Canadian b.1994, Beijing, China) is an artist and curator based in New York. Her thoughts linger on the conceptual connotations of matter, once translated and interpreted as material culture. She writes occasionally and hosts Room482, an apartment run exhibition space dedicated to fostering community convening around art in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn. She has contributed to exhibitions such as Items: Is Fashion Modern? as part of the curatorial Architecture and Design team at the Museum of Modern Art, NY, and to the design of exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum. An alumni artist in residence at Autodesk Pier 9 in San Francisco, her work has also been shown internationally in galleries such as Rossana Orlandi (Milan, Italy) and DUPLEX (New York, NY). Gong Xiaowen has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Aminah Ibrahim is Black American/Kuwaiti/Indonesian artist, arts administrator, and emerging archivist interested in the preservation and ephemeral integrity of performance art. They explore the body as spiritual instrument through somatic movement, Austronesian cultures, and the blues. Inspired by the barzakh, described in the Qur’an as the barrier between sweet and salty water, mortal realm and spirit world, improvisation and meditative repetition are used to explore movement. Performances are rituals of offering, an embodied contemplation towards freedom and abstraction to build portals for new mythologies, with custom garb and sound scores annotating this body language. Exploring the geographies of identity, other works are developed into video artworks and multimedia installations investigating the struggle between an exposed surveillance and an abstracted self-censorship. Developing sculptural works, they incorporate natural materials, found objects, clothing, chainmail, embroidery, and text.
Ibrahim has shown work at Movement Research at Judson Church, Triskelion Arts, DUPLEX, Abrons Art Center, JACK, Magenta Plains, and Wellcome Collection, London. They have received an MA in Sound Art from London College of Communication, a Postgraduate Diploma in Music Production and Recording from University of Stavanger, Norway, and BS in TV, Radio, Film and Anthropology from Syracuse University.