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Kristeva’s formation of temporality is useful in considering the importance of repetition in Leigh’s work, but Leigh’s expanded concerns also involve the interstices of race, gender, and class.
By centering black women as subjects and audience, Leigh forges her own sense of time that is constantly navigating various histories, while contending with the present and with possible futures.
Architecture is for Leigh another extension of the body; her Cupboard sculptures (the work on view marks a fifth iteration) are steel lattice constructions, which become armatures for other layers of covering or are left bare.
These womblike structures allude to sub-Saharan African grass huts and rural meeting places, which are often built by women.
Selected recent and upcoming exhibitions include Working in ceramics, sculpture, video, installation, and social practice, Simone Leigh (b.
1967, Chicago) examines the construction of black female subjectivity and economies of preservation and exchange.
Architecture becomes another extension of the body for Leigh; often cages constructed of steel that become either the armature for another layer of cover, or are left bare.
Art historian Lucy Lippard wrote at the time: “Certain elements—a central focus (often ‘empty,’ often circular or oval), parabolic baglike forms, obsessive line and detail, veiled strata, tactile or sensuous surfaces and forms, associative fragmentation, autobiographical emphasis, and so forth—are found far more often in the work of women than of men.”Leigh’s conflation of divergent sensibilities, histories, and artistic impulses fits into a respected lineage of artists who are oriented toward feminist and civil rights activist discourses, such as Faith Ringgold, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Noah Purifoy, and Miriam Schapiro, among others.
The faces have broad, rounded noses and full lips, features often ascribed to African Americans.
The eyes are smoothly modeled, giving way to flat and high foreheads.
But her global, contemporary context also enables her to treat history as porous, ripe for repeated engagement and scrutiny.
The works in her ongoing Anatomy of Architecture series are ceramic busts that recall the aesthetics of African figurative sculpture.
Working across ceramics, sculpture, video, installation, and social practice, Simone Leigh examines the construction of black female subjectivity and economies of self-preservation and exchange.