[Photos: Andy Keate]

Chisenhale Gallery presents LA-based artist Nikita Gale’s first solo exhibition in the UK.

Gale sculpts concrete and metal, light and sound. Composing atmospheric, large-scale installations, Gale’s practice orbits themes of invisibility and audibility, interrogating the unstable relationship between performer and spectator, structure and ruin.

Building on Gale’s RUINER series (2020-present) — aluminium armatures evoking crowd-control barriers, wrapped with concrete-saturated strips of cloth — this new commission, IN A DREAM YOU CLIMB THE STAIRS, consists of remnants of a performance rendered in concrete. The exhibition takes Toni Morrison’s 1977 novel Song of Solomon as its starting point, notably the character of Circe, who shares her home with a pack of Weimaraner dogs. Referencing a passage from the book in the exhibition’s title, Gale brings to life an ambitious interpretation of Circe’s feral and free domain — once a grand house, now a decaying testament to the greed and violence of the family she previously served but outlived.

Two conical spotlights and pleated swathes of theatre curtain, ten metres in length, punctuate the gallery. Concretised knotted dog leads, which hang chandelier-like from the ceiling, have been woven into the kinds of elaborate knots a dog might make when left unattended with their restraints. Commands used by humans to summon dogs interrupt the gallery’s stillness. The sound activates a lighting sequence — designed with Gale’s ongoing collaborator Josephine Wang — which intermittently illuminates the exhibition, making reference to the dichromatic vision of dogs.

Gale’s installation is a materialisation of what might happen when social infrastructures of visibility and performance turn to ruin. How might the remains be used and navigated by sensory economies that operate outside of our visually dominant, human one?

Chisenhale Books

As an extension of Nikita Gale’s commission, Chisenhale Gallery will launch the second title in its Chisenhale Books series. Launching October 2022 to mark the exhibition’s finale, Gale’s first artist’s book contains an intergenerational conversation with conceptual artist Barbara Kruger and a short meditation by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Hilton Als, alongside original contributions by artist and Chisenhale Gallery alum P. Staff and the author of Afro-Dog: Blackness and the Animal Question, Dr. Bénédicte Boisseron. Nikita Gale: IN A DREAM YOU CLIMB THE STAIRS is a Chisenhale Book, published by Hurtwood.


Nikita Gale lives and works in Los Angeles. Selected exhibitions include: END OF SUBJECT, 52 Walker, New York (2022); THANK GOD YOU'RE HERE, 56 Henry, New York, NY (2022); SOME WEATHER, CIRCA and Chisenhale Gallery, London, UK; Tokyo, Japan and Seoul, South Korea (2021); PRIVATE DANCER, California African American Museum, Los Angeles, USA; and AUDIENCING, MoMA PS1, Long Island City, USA (both 2020.) Gale is the recipient of the FOCAFellowship(2021), Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant (2017), the Toby Devan Lewis Fellowship, UCLA (2016) and the National Endowment for the Arts Southern Constellations Fellowship (2013).

IN A DREAM YOU CLIMB THE STAIRS is commissioned and produced by Chisenhale Gallery.

Lead Exhibition Supporters: The Foundation Foundation, the Terra Foundation for American Art and Shane Akeroyd.

Headline Supporters: Henry Moore Foundation, Commonwealth and Council.

IN A DREAM YOU CLIMB THE STAIRS is produced with support from the Chisenhale Gallery Commissions Fund. With additional support from the Nikita Gale Supporters' Circle.

The associated artist’s book (forthcoming October 2022) is a Chisenhale Book published by Hurtwood Press; made possible through the support of the Terra Foundation for American Art and Chisenhale Books Founding Supporter Pamela J. Joyner.

Chisenhale Gallery’s Talks and Events Programme 2022 is supported by Brian Boylan.

Chisenhale Gallery’s Schools’ Programme 2022-23 has been made possible through the generosity of Headline Supporter Goodman Gallery.

[Text: Chisenhale Gallery]

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