‘R.I.P. Germain: Avangarda’ to Open at Sculpture Center in January, 2024




R.I.P. Germain, research image, 2023. Courtesy the artist

SculptureCenter is pleased to present the first exhibition in the United States of R.I.P. Germain, on view Jan 25–Mar 25, 2024 in the institution’s ground floor gallery. UK-based, R.I.P. Germain investigates how structures of exclusion lead to the creation of para-institutional spaces, practices, and modes of sociality and solidarity. His practice explores how a lack of access to financial, legal, and other forms of state-sanctioned resources foment support systems that respond to the needs of underserved and excluded communities.

In New York, R.I.P. Germain will present a series of newly commissioned sculptures mimicking facades and storefronts. Working at architectural scale, R.I.P. Germain’s presentation will expand his recent explorations of “false fronts”– or spaces that present themselves in one way but function in another. Offering an appearance of banality, they frequently mask an illegal operation. Liminal and precarious spaces of trade, the fronts also run as spaces of care and sociality. These engineered facsimiles represent amalgams of frontages for “baggy spaces” (as coined by the artist and the activist-curator Helen Starr), places “found in every city, governed by their own logics — market and moral, they function as ways to serve a community need that otherwise remains unmet.”

Aesthetically, these false fronts draw features from the vernacular of retail architecture, and to the casual observer they may pass muster, but on closer inspection they frequently sit slightly off-kilter to the mainstream. The dense layering of the facades – in terms of meaning, but also physically, with shutters over glass, graffiti over shutters, and overspray bleeding through to windows beneath – is analogous to the social valence of baggy spaces: adjacent, connected, at some points compensatory, at others adversarial. Meanings and usages compete for real estate.

R.I.P. Germain focuses on these locations for the ways they exist only for those who know to look for them. This condition generates specified ways to access and operate in them that cut across typical social hierarchies and stratification. In an illegal or semi-legal setting that is nonetheless frequented by a cross-section of society, the rules of engagement are the establishment’s own. In hyperlocal terms that interrogate what it means to be “in the know” (to recognize a false front, to know the tag of a graffiti artist, to be taught the codes), R.I.P. Germain’s work asks whether such semi-secrecy produces community, reproduces the destructive dynamics of the outside world, or allows for other systems of sociality and value to develop. By analogy, the artist questions the institutional and structural hierarchies of official, state-sanctioned establishments and how they reinforce social and cultural discrimination.

Related questions have been integral to the artist’s recent work, particularly around misreadings of the value systems of Black culture, summarized in the artist’s words as: “A hyperobject that exists in the mind of some people who imagine a monolithic, well-defined set of practices and products that are assumed to be understood by all Black people. In actuality, Black culture is harder to define, even from the inside.” (See this glossary developed for a recent exhibition at ICA London.) R.I.P. Germain’s work has taken Black grief, mourning, wealth, music, gang culture, and hypermasculinity as objects to be recognized, codified, and reconciled with their reception and misreadings. His exhibition at SculptureCenter brings the artist’s critical and aesthetic hypersensitivity to New York City asking: how do subcultures function within wider cultural contexts?

R.I.P. Germain: Avangarda is curated by SculptureCenter.

About R.I.P. Germain

R.I.P. Germain’s practice traffics in double meanings, deep resonances and a tension between accessibility and occlusion. Trickster and guide, he tries to dance a fine line: making work that speaks to deep truths without cheapening them with explanations or flattening them out for easy consumption. Sedimented with layers dense with cultural meaning and reference, the extensive research undergirding R.I.P. Germain’s work draws from multiple genres of Black experience, history and culture – personal and collective, seeking to make art that is rigorous about his commitments and possibilities as a Black artist.

R.I.P. Germain has exhibited internationally and recent exhibitions include; FUBU A/W 23, a solo show at Goswell Road, Paris (2023); Artists’ Film International 2023, a group show launching at Whitechapel Gallery, London, and then moving on to 18 other partner organizations around the globe; “Jesus Died For Us, We Will Die For Dudus!”, a solo show at ICA, London (2023); Cubitt 30, a group show presented by Cubitt at Victoria Miro in London (2022); The Exhibition Formerly Known As “Trace Image” at Deborah Schamoni, Munich (2022); Shimmer, a solo show at Two Queens in Leicester, UK (2022); Four Bedrooms With An En Suite, A Garage & Garden In A Nice Neighbourhood, a solo show at V.O Curations in London (2022); Supastore Southside, Slingbacks & Sunshine, a group show hosted by Sarah Staton at South London Gallery (2022); Ways Of Living #2, a group show presented by Arcadia Missa at NICO in Bari, Italy (2021); Dead Yard, a solo show at Cubitt in London (2020); Double 6 with Ashley Holmes in the former courtroom at Leeds Town Hall in Leeds, UK (2019); and Gidi Up, a solo show at Peak in London (2018). R.I.P. Germain was the recipient of the ICA Image Behaviour 2022 prize, which culminated in his first short film premiering at the ICA in 2022.


Generous support for R.I.P. Germain: Avangarda is provided by ARTNOIR and Micki Meng.

Special thanks to Neon Fab Studios, New York.

Leadership support for SculptureCenter’s exhibitions and programs is provided by Carol Bove, Barbara and Andrew Gundlach, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, Jill and Peter Kraus, and Teiger Foundation. Major support is provided by the Marguerite Steed Hoffman Donor Advised Fund at The Dallas Foundation, Karyn Kohl, Miyoung Lee and Neil Simpkins, Eleanor Heyman Propp, and Jacques Louis Vidal. Support is also generously provided by the May and Samuel Rudin Foundation, Inc., with additional funding from Candy and Michael Barasch, Sanford Biggers, Libby and Adrian Ellis, Jane Hait and Justin Beal, and Amy and Sean Lyons.

Leadership support for SculptureCenter’s annual operating support is provided by the Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation, and the Elaine Graham Weitzen Foundation for Fine Arts.

Major support is provided by Hauser & Wirth, with generous funding from the A. Woodner Fund. Additional support is provided by Irene Brill and Allen H. Brill, Mary and Brad Burnham, Charlotte Feng Ford, Agnes Gund, Hartwig Art Foundation, Gabrielle Humphrey, Zenas Hutcheson, Michael Levine, David Maclean, Paul Massey / B6 Real Estate Advisors, Charmaine and Roman Mendoza, Micki Meng, Paul Pfeiffer / Artwrld, Brenda R. Potter, Marinela Samourkas, the Wilhelm Family Foundation, and contributions from our Board of Trustees, Director’s Circle, Ambassadors, and many charitable individuals and friends.

SculptureCenter’s programming and operations are funded, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

SculptureCenter is a proud member of CANNY (Collaborative Arts Network New York), currently supported by the Mellon Foundation, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Arison Arts Foundation, Imperfect Family Foundation, and the Jay DeFeo Foundation.

R.I.P. Germain: Avangarda will be on view from January 25 to March 25, 2024 at Sculpture Center, 44-19 Purves Street, Long Island City, NY 11101. An Opening Reception will be held on Wednesday, January 24th from 6-8pm.