CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts announces Nothing is Eternal, a solo exhibition from interdisciplinary artist Jeffrey Gibson (b. 1972, Colorado, U.S.) featuring a single work—a newly commissioned video with musical composition—opening Thursday, October 22.
The first exhibition from the Wattis Institute since it closed in March due to COVID–19, Jeffrey Gibson: Nothing is Eternal is a hybrid, part in-person, part online exhibition that circumvents traditional institutional barriers with screenings outside the physical space of the Wattis Institute. The exhibition opens in person on Thursday, October 22, 7–9 pm, at the Tenderloin National Forest (501 Ellis Street, San Francisco) and ends in December with outdoor screenings at the Headlands Center for the Arts (944 Simmonds Road, Sausalito; check wattis.org soon for dates). Beginning Friday, October 30, the immersive video work will be on view on the Wattis Institute’s website. Please check wattis.org soon for additional online screenings at partner organizations and public programs to be announced.
“Nothing is Eternal tracks my impulses during this time,” says Jeffrey Gibson, who began working on the video at the beginning of the COVID–19 pandemic, amidst global uncertainty; the unjust police killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many other Black individuals; and the growing unrest and division in the United States. “My attempts to stabilize myself, to see myself, to see others, to feel, and to try and focus and not lose sight that there is a future on the other side of this particular moment. The challenge is to not hold on too tight, to not retreat into our past habits and comfort zones, and to allow change to happen even if it makes us feel destabilized and uncomfortable. We may be in this space for a while. Please remember Audre Lorde’s words: ‘Each time you love, love as deeply as if it were forever only, nothing is eternal.’”
Gibson’s work references various aesthetic and material histories rooted in Indigenous cultures of the Americas, and in modern and contemporary subcultures. A member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and of Cherokee descent, he is forging a multifarious practice that redresses the exclusion and erasure of Indigenous art traditions from the history of Western art as it explores the complexity and fluidity of identity.
Jeffrey Gibson: Nothing is Eternal is curated by Kim Nguyen and organized by Diego Villalobos. Special thanks to Sikkema Jenkins & Co., Kavi Gupta Gallery, and Roberts Projects.
More about Jeffrey Gibson: Nothing is Eternal
Conceived during this pandemic era, the immersive video work depicts the American flag in unsettling stillness, as a marker of territory and projected onto bodies, while set to a heartrending soundtrack. At once melancholic and beautiful, Gibson renders the iconic image of the flag as both elastic and unyielding. The slow transformation through time, color, and form reflects both a distillation of our social collapse and the reinvention of self and community, referencing the movement and change that is so desired for this nation.
Nothing is Eternal is reminiscent of Gibson’s painting practice, which foregrounds affinities between patterns, colors, and materials long used in Native American art and those characteristic of contemporary Western and global art traditions. His investigations of color relationships and use of the grid as a structuring device engage with the history of geometric abstraction, but the pieces also recall weaving and other material references found in Indigenous art. In resisting preconceived notions about what the work of a Native American artist should look like, Gibson is prompting a shift in how Native American art is perceived and historicized.
Presented during the 2020 general election, the exhibition embodies the contradiction of emotions that pervade our lives, yesterday as much as today, as we head toward an uncertain future. The work posits hope as much as it evinces a sense of mourning. Gibson asks viewers to imagine a destiny beyond our comprehension, on a pathway paved with both tremendous love and immense sorrow.
About Jeffrey Gibson
Jeffrey Gibson (b. 1972, Colorado, U.S.) combines Native American traditions with the visual languages of Modernism to explore the contemporary confluence of personal identity, culture, history, and international social narratives. Gibson is a member of the Chocktaw and Cherokee nations.
Gibson’s pieces range from garments and sculptural objects to paintings and video and often involve intricately detailed and technically demanding handwork using materials such as beads, metal jingles, fringe, and deer and elk hide. Mixed with references from popular culture, queer iconography, and contemporary political issues, the materials take on a different meaning while also calling into question the line distinguishing contemporary art from traditional modes of cultural production.
Gibson’s previous exhibitions include Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer, organized by the Denver Art Museum, and This Is The Day, organized by The Wellin Museum. Other notable solo exhibitions include The Anthropophagic Effect (2019), The New Museum, New York; Look How Far We’ve Come! (2017), Haggerty Museum of Art, Milwaukee; Jeffrey Gibson: Speak to Me, (2017), Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center, Oklahoma City; and A Kind of Confession (2016), Savannah College of Art and Design Museum, Savannah. Gibson is a recipient of a 2019 MacArthur Foundation grant.
About CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
Founded in 1998 at California College of the Arts in San Francisco and located a few blocks from its campus, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts is a nonprofit exhibition venue and research institute dedicated to contemporary art and ideas. As an exhibition space, it commissions and shows new work by emerging and established artists from around the world. Recent solo exhibitions include Lydia Ourahmane: صرخة شمسية Solar Cry; Cinthia Marcelle: A morta; Vincent Fecteau; Abbas Akhavan: cast for a folly; Akosua Adoma Owusu: Welcome to the Jungle (which traveled to the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans); Diamond Stingily: Doing the Best I Can; Rosha Yaghmai: Miraclegrow; Adam Linder: Full Service (which traveled to Mudam Luxembourg); Ken Lum: What’s Old is Old for a Dog; Henrik Olesen: The Walk; Melanie Gilligan: Partswholes; Howard Fried: Derelicts; Laura Owens: Ten Paintings; Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys: Tram 3 (which traveled to MoMA PS1); Josephine Pryde: Lapses in Thinking by the Person I Am (which traveled to ICA Philadelphia and earned Pryde a 2016 Turner Prize nomination); K.r.m. Mooney: En, set; Sam Lewitt: More Heat Than Light (which traveled to Kunsthalle Basel and the Swiss Institute, New York); and Ellen Cantor: Cinderella Syndrome (which traveled to Künstlerhaus Stuttgart). A recent group exhibition, Mechanisms, traveled to Secession in Vienna in an expanded form entitled Other Mechanisms.
As a research institute, the Wattis dedicates an entire year to reflect on the work of a single artist, which informs a regular series of public programs and publications involving the field’s most prominent artists and thinkers. The 2020–2021 season is dedicated to the poet and artist Cecilia Vicuña; past seasons featured Joan Jonas, Andrea Fraser, David Hammons, Seth Price, Dodie Bellamy, and Trinh T. Minh-ha.
The Wattis also hosts an annual Capp Street Artist-in-Residence, one of the earliest and longest-running artist-in-residence programs in the country, founded in 1983 by Ann Hatch as Capp Street Project, and incorporated into the Wattis Institute in 1998. Each year, an artist comes to live and work in San Francisco for a semester, teaches a graduate seminar at CCA, and presents an exhibition. Recent participants include Hồng-Ân Trương (2019–2020), Abbas Akhavan (2018–2019), contemptorary (2017–2018), Melanie Gilligan (2016–2017), Carissa Rodriguez (2015–2016), Nairy Baghramian (2014–2015), Claire Fontaine (2013–2014), Ryan Gander (2012–2013), Harrell Fletcher and Kris Martin (2011–2012), Paulina Olowska and Renata Lucas (2010–2011), and Abraham Cruzvillegas (2009–2010). For more information, visit: wattis.org.