Pasts, Futures, and Aftermaths: Revisiting the Black Dada Reader (publication)
In 2011, artist Adam Pendleton assembled Black Dada Reader, a compendium of texts, documents and positions that elucidated a practice and ethos of “Black Dada.” Resembling a school course reader, the book was a spiral-bound series of photocopies and collages, originally intended only for personal reference, and eventually distributed informally to friends and colleagues. The contents—an unlikely mix of Hugo Ball, W.E.B. Du Bois, Adrian Piper, Gertrude Stein, Sun Ra, Stokely Carmichael, Gilles Deleuze—formed a kind of experimental canon, realized through what Pendleton calls “radical juxtaposition.” In 2017, Koenig Books published the Reader in a hardcover edition, with newly commissioned essays and additional writings by the artist.
A decade later, Pendleton has composed another reader, building upon the constellation of writers, artists, filmmakers, philosophers and critics that emerged in the first volume, and sketching out new potential forms and vectors for Black Dada. Along with new source texts—from Toni Cade Bambara to Piet Mondrian to Clarice Lispector to Achille Mbembe—Pendleton has included conversations with some of the figures whose writing and work were featured in the earlier Reader: Thomas Hirschhorn, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Joan Jonas, Lorraine O’Grady, and Joan Retallack.
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Adam Pendleton et al.
Whitney Biennial 2022: Quiet as It’s Kept (group show)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
6 April – 5 September 2022
Adam Pendleton is participating in the eightieth edition of the Whitney Biennial, Quiet as It’s Kept. Presenting works by 63 artists, the exhibition is on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York until 5 September 2022. Established to chart developments in art of the United States, the Whitney Biennial is the longest-running exhibition of its kind.
“How do you make sense on an emotional, intellectual, and pragmatic level of the visual residue one leaves behind?” This is a pivotal question for Adam Pendleton’s recent abstract paintings on view at the institution, which involve a process of accumulation in which the surface of the canvas teems with sweeping gestures, language, drips, splatters, and moments of erasure in a reflection of how we evolve in life. Pendleton has explained that these works “verge on the monumental; they can take months to make and capture a deep history of marks and impressions. Minor moments become major moments because of how they articulate who we are or who we might be at any given moment. It’s a visual poetics of disruption.” These paintings, Pendleton has suggested, ask: “how do you leverage, subvert, and deploy your subjectivity? We all are doing it all of the time. It becomes more interesting when we’re aware that we’re doing it.”
Adam Pendleton began making video portraits ten years ago. In September 2016, he heard activist Ruby Sales on Krista Tippett’s public radio program On Being. As he has recalled: “She was posing a very simple question: ‘Where does it hurt?’ It's a question that urgently gets to the heart of the matter about being American.” He researched Sales and learned about her near shooting by a segregationist construction worker and part-time deputy sheriff in 1965. Jonathan Daniels, a white seminary student working alongside her in the civil rights movement in Alabama, took the shotgun bullet for her and was killed instantly. After the incident, she did not speak for months. Over the course of filming Sales, Pendleton realized there was another layer to the story—one “that was never told about her life and who she loves, how she loves, maybe even why she loves.”
Pendleton’s earlier video portraits have featured subjects including artist Lorraine O’Grady; choreographers Yvonne Rainer, Ishmael Houston-Jones, and Kyle Abraham; queer theorist Jack Halberstam; and Black Panther Party founding member David Hilliard.
Whitney Museum of American Art
These Things We’ve Done Together (solo show)
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal
17 March – 10 July 2022
Adam Pendleton’s exhibition These Things We’ve Done Together will be on view at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) from 15 March until 10 July 2022. This exhibition marks the artist’s first solo exhibition in Canada, presenting new monumental paintings from his series Untitled (WE ARE NOT) as well as seven drawings from his defining series Black Dada produced this year.
In his paintings, drawings and other works, Pendleton uses letters, words, drips, splatters, sprays, and collected images as primary materials. His work is a kind of continuous writing, in which language and gestural marks are recorded, transposed and overwritten. Blurring the edges between modes of viewing and reading, between representation and abstraction, and between painting, drawing and photography, Pendleton’s work is a visual philosophy of incomplete postulates. In 2008, he began to articulate his work through the idea of Black Dada, a visual project and ever-evolving inquiry into the relationships between Blackness, abstraction, and the avant-garde.
This exhibition also includes the video Just Back from Los Angeles: A Portrait of Yvonne Rainer (2016-2017), a portrayal of pioneering avant-garde dancer, choreographer and filmmaker Yvonne Rainer, filmed in a New York City diner. It features the artist and Rainer in conversation as well as scenes of Rainer performing her iconic dance Trio A (1966) and reading a text prepared by Pendleton that collages writing by activists Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael, poet Ron Silliman and Rainer’s friend Barbara Dilley.
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Who Is Queen? (solo show)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
18 September 2021 – 21 February 2022
Adam Pendleton: Who Is Queen? transforms MoMA’s Marron Family Atrium into a dynamic arena exploring Blackness, abstraction, and the avant-garde. In his monumental floor-to-ceiling installation, Adam Pendleton has created a spatial collage of text, image, and sound—a total work of art for the 21st century.
Who Is Queen? is anchored by three five-story black scaffold towers that resemble the balloon framing typical of American homes and that serve as supports for paintings, drawings, a textile work, sculptures, moving images, and a sound piece. In the paintings, Pendleton creates layered fields of unresolved text and gestural marks, built up from spray-painted and brushed originals that have been photographed, photocopied, and enlarged for screenprinting. The drawings feature sketches and visual “notes,” and, at times, reproductions from the artist’s library of books. Pendleton’s visual language challenges legibility, continuously writing and overwriting itself.
Pendleton’s latest video portrait, So We Moved: A Portrait of Jack Halberstam screens at 12:30 and 4:30 p.m. daily, alternating with two moving-image works that function as notes on the embattled Robert E. Lee monument in Richmond, Virginia, and Resurrection City, a 1968 ad-hoc city set up on the national mall in Washington, DC. Resurrection City has played an influential role in Pendleton’s wider investigation of alternative structures and social formations. Finally, a sound collage anchored by a reading by the poet Amiri Baraka, a recording by composer Hahn Rowe, and a recording of a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Manhattan is interwoven with musical fragments from a range of composers and musicians. Dialogues organized by Pendleton featuring pairs of artists, writers, and thinkers will be released online monthly, and incorporated into the sound installation, which shifts and changes over the course of the exhibition.
Challenging the traditional role of the museum as a repository for a fixed history, Who Is Queen? collages multiple voices and cultural touch points to generate new relationships between traditionally incommensurable subjects. As the artist states, the work “is not black or white. It articulates the ways in which we simultaneously possess and are possessed by contradictory ideals and ideas.”
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue edited by Adam Pendleton and Alec Mapes-Frances. Serving as a primer and a handbook, this reader includes photocopies of texts that have been critical in Pendleton’s practice, with the work of such disparate figures as Glenn Gould, Michael Hardt, and Ruby Sales, alongside images of Resurrection City and Pendleton’s own drawings. The texts pick up and elaborate on the exhibition’s themes: the idea of the museum as a repository for meaning and the influence that mass movements can have on the exhibition as form. This catalogue is available on the MoMA design store.
The Museum of Modern Art
"I Voted" sticker for the 26 October issue of New York Magazine
48 artists including Adam Pendleton have designed special "I Voted" stickers for four different covers of the October 26 issue of New York Magazine.
The idea was initiated by New York Magazine and nonpartisan organization "I am a voter" to encourage people to engage in the mail-in and early voting for 2020 US Presidential Election. The stickers will be distributed along with the issue, and also be available at book-stores, museums, non-profit organisations, and official polling sites across the country.
New York Magazine