|Glenn Ligon, Live, 2014, (Installation view), Seven channel video, Duration: 80 minutes. Image via luhringaugustine.com.|
We Need To Wake Up Because That’s What Time It Is
January 16 - April 17, 2016
LUHRING AUGUSTINE BUSHWICK
25 Knickerbocker Avenue
Luhring Augustine Bushwick is pleased to present We Need To Wake Up Cause That’s What Time It Is, a new exhibition by the artist Glenn Ligon.
The exhibition features Live (2014), a silent seven channel video installation based on the 1982 film Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip. Pryor is famous for his darkly humorous and often explicit critiques of society, and Ligon has previously incorporated his standup material in a series of colorful text paintings. In Live, Ligon removes Pryor’s voice, and thereby, the incisive comedy for which he is best known. One channel depicts Pryor in full, while the other six channels each focus on a specific part of his body – his hands, head, mouth, groin, and shadow – to concentrate our attention on his animated delivery and emphatic body language. Each screen is illuminated only when that particular part of the body is visible in the original film, thus the screens flicker off and on intermittently, prompting the viewer to walk around them in order to take in the whole installation.
At a certain moment in the original Live on the Sunset Strip, Pryor discusses his tendency to grow increasingly silent when he becomes angry – “the madder I get, the quieter I get” – and his voice gives way to furious gesturing and the mouthing of obscenities, revealing the sheer physicality of his comedy. By deliberately muting his speech and fragmenting his image, Ligon compels us to see Pryor anew and focus on the non-verbal aspects of his performance – his vivid facial expressions, the perpetual motion of his delicate hands, even his bright red suit. This emphasis on the body invariably raises questions regarding social constructs of race and masculinity. Much of Ligon’s practice explores the limits of language, particularly as it relates to history and identity. Live continues in this vein by eliminating language entirely to consider how meaning is conveyed through the body, as well as conferred upon it.