Nikita Gale
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This month we’re in the studio visiting with contemporary artist Nikita Gale. Gale's work employs objects and materials like barricades, concrete, microphone stands, and spotlights to address the ways in which space and sound are politicized. Last year in episode 32 we visited with gallerist Ebony L. Haynes, director of 52 Walker, and it was in preparing for that conversation that I visited the gallery, and had the treat of seeing Nikita Gale’s work in person for the first time in the exhibition titled End of Subject. I wasn’t really sure what to expect as the documentation online was deliciously cryptic — installation views showed a space sparsely populated by metal panels on the wall, and on the floor numerous sets of metal bleachers that appeared to have been crushed, thrown on their sides, spotlights strewn about the room, and wires — lots and lots of wires everywhere. With the beautiful wooden floors and opens space of the gallery, it looked as though a dance piece or some performance art had gone horribly wrong. This was all I knew, as well as the fact that there was some kind of sound element to the piece. When I arrived, the gallery looked just as it did in the photos online, but there was no sound. I was tiptoeing through the empty gallery, when suddenly the whole space sprung to life — voices erupted through the space, and the previously inert spotlights began to dance around the room. Over the course of several minutes I witnessed an incredible choreography of sound and light, until silence and stillness eventually returned to the room for an extended period of time before a new score and choreography eventually emerged. I sat in the room for an hour watching people come and go — some visitors who missed the performance entirely, some who only saw one or the other. It was incredible to see the space repeatedly transform from a spectacle, to a space where the viewers themselves became the performance. Being a conservation nerd of course my mind went directly to wondering how in the world a piece like this might be documented and migrated through generations of technology over decades, and I knew I just had to have the artist on the show to find out. Tune in to hear Nikita’s story.
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