Nengudi’s work in all its indefinable glory will this week become the subject of a survey at the Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition. Having previously appeared at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, Lenbachhaus in Munich, and the Denver Art Museum in Colorado (the state that Nengudi has called home since 1989), the show, titled “Topologies,” considers her as an essential figure within the history of performance art. While the exhibition includes a number of sculptures, including ones from her famed “R.S.V.P.” series that make use of pantyhose and sand, her performances are often only hinted at through documentation. Nevertheless, this is often enough to conjure the electric presence that animates Nengudi’s art.
In fact, Nengudi has written that she often did not want to create objects that existed forever. “I have fought the joy of creating impermanent objects most of my life,” she wrote in a 1995 artist statement. “An artist’s supposed greatest desire is the making of objects that will last lifetimes for posterity after all. This has never been a priority for me. My purpose is to create an experience that will vibrate with the connecting thread.”
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