52 Walker, the new David Zwirner gallery space programmed and led by Director Ebony L. Haynes, will open October 2021, with a solo presentation of work by Kandis Williams, on view through December 2021. The gallery takes its name from its location at 52 Walker Street in Tribeca. The gallery will occupy the first floor of the five-story landmark building, which was formerly the home of M1-5 Lounge. Selldorf Architects is designing the renovation of the space.
52 Walker will function differently than the other David Zwirner locations. Reflecting Haynes’s broader curatorial practice, which is largely interested in conceptual and research-based work, the gallery will feature artists of all backgrounds and at various stages of their careers. While the works shown at 52 Walker will be for sale, the gallery will not represent the exhibiting artists. The gallery will present four exhibitions per year, melding a traditional commercial gallery model with the longer exhibition development and presentation timelines of a kunsthalle, and visitors to 52 Walker will have the opportunity to engage with exhibitions over a full season and connect with the work through the gallery’s exhibition catalogue series, Clarion, and related programming.
The inaugural exhibition, A Line, will feature works by Kandis Williams, whose versatile practice spans collage, performance, video, assemblage, and installation. Her work interrogates issues of race, nationalism, authority, and eroticism. This will be Williams’s first solo presentation in New York.
Based primarily in Los Angeles, Williams will debut new works that were created in New York for A Line. The exhibition will feature a video, collages, and sculptures that move toward a formal dance notation. Notation has been used in different modes throughout history to capture and inscribe the qualities of movement in two dimensions. Williams draws upon her background in dramaturgy to envision a space that accommodates the varied biopolitical economies that inform how movement might be read. She establishes indices that network the parts of the anatomy, regions of Black diaspora, communication and obfuscation, and how popular culture and myth are interconnected.
Laying out a multipronged matrix, Williams introduces four “forks” that she has charted in her history of dance to unspool its white supremacist underpinnings. The first is the anthropological and social understanding of dance as a part of healing, ritual, and entertainment. The second is the “dance of death”: how martial forms emerged as a response to how societies have been organized. The third is an appraisal of courtly dance, which has heavily shaped ballet and modern dance as we understand it today. The final fork looks at contemporary movement and the intellectual property of dance.
The exhibited works traffic between these forks to shape an alternative language that suggests how Black moving bodies are regarded. The video will focus on markings and inscriptions that elaborate individual, collective, and historiographic schema from stage diagrams to astrological charts. A series of plant sculptures will feature representations of Black pinups, whose bodies turning away from the viewer are antithetical to the frontal, balletic positionality of contemporary dancers. The collage works will combine images that reference the ghosts of dance’s past, present, and future—subverting what oppressive structures might term “influence,” but what others might see as brutal appropriation.
A Line follows Williams’s 2020–2021 solo presentation A Field at the Institute for Contemporary Art, Virginia Commonwealth University, which considered the tango through the transatlantic slave trade, prison labor, and horticulture through patterns of migration. Recasting history to evade hegemonic frameworks, Williams makes visible the inexpressible violence to which Black bodies have been subject in dance and beyond.
Clarion, the 52 Walker publication series from David Zwirner Books, will be releasing an accompanying exhibition catalogue featuring contributions by Haynes, artist and writer Hannah Black, and a conversation between Williams and the choreographer Okwui Okpokwasili. Additionally, Williams will contribute notes on the work and bibliographical references.
Kandis Williams: A Line will be on view from October 28 through December 2021 as the inaugural exhibition for David Zwirner’s new gallery, 52 Walker, located at 52 Walker Street in NYC.
52 Walker is pleased to announce the full exhibition schedule through 2022:
Kandis Williams, on view October–December 2021
Nikita Gale, on view January–March 2022
Nora Turato, on view April–June 2022
Tiona Nekkia McClodden, on view July–September 2022
Tau Lewis, on view October–December 2022