Tiona Nekkia McClodden Don’t Run Away

Philadelphia – Actress Teona Nikia McClouden It hit Venice Square on a sweltering Monday in July. The air was sticky inside the facility, but her routine wouldn’t be denied. She shoots every week and avoids the weekends, when the range is crowded and noisy as men shoot from assault rifles, evoking sensory overload.

It might be a familiar activity to some Americans. Less so for the artist. But McClouden, 41, a Star of the 2019 Whitney Biennale Who has three major presentations to work now in New York City – in 52 WalkerAnd the shedand the Museum of Modern Art Didn’t buy guns and got license to carry them two years ago with art in mind. At least in the beginning.

She did so — like many other black Philadelphians, you remember — after the pandemic dried up the streets, then George Floyd protests and counter-protests filled with hackers and a sense of violence. Safety and self-defense were her concerns.

She was warmly received by the employees of the group – she trained here, earning her membership. She bought multiple ammo and paper targets in shades of pink or multiple oval bull’s-eyes. In her lane, she took out her three pistols—Walther .22 with Glock and Smith & Wesson, both 9mm—and carefully placed them in front of her.

“Every bullet I hold, I breathe through,” she said. “I am getting used to being in space. There is a protocol.”

An hour later, McLaden was headed to her studio in North Philadelphia. She finished her target training, as always, in a sequence where she would draw methodically, before each shot, to break the nonstop machine-like shooting spell. This put human bets directly into her thoughts – reminding her that this is not a game. “There is life out there,” she said.

It wasn’t for art – but art happened anyway. The result is “Mask/Conceal/Carry,” a racy beast in a gallery, bathed in blue light, at 52 Walker, David Zwirner’s space at TriBeCa.

Emerging as a filmmaker before expanding on installations, McCloud has found it in her widest formal range, including videos, sculptures, bronzes, text, and her first drawing series. But its subject matter is narrow: an artist’s journey through photography to confront herself and establish her place in the world – in all aspects of her identity.

The bold, often contrasting exhibition forms a kind of trilogy this season with McClodden’s other Manhattan shows: a room-size installation at the Museum of Modern Art that is a tribute to the Brad Johnson, a black gay poet who died in 2011, with the subject of slavery and fetishism; and at The Shed, a comprehensive program she has curated on the history of black dance.

The result is three ways to meet an artist who may be the most important in America today, someone who is individually rigorous and deeply vocal about race, gender, sexuality, spiritual life, and more—best to carve out a responsible role in culture. Celebrating a forgotten figure like Johnson, or an entire field like Black Dance, is her way of recognizing and renewing artistic lineages—a kind of accountability.

“This is all an exercise in not being ignorant,” she said. “a period.”

On the wall beside her desk were her incantations—a poem by Johnson, a portrait of Jean-Michel Basquiat, and a dark object full of short vertical nails. It was a rustic tool used to remove seeds from cotton, and it smelled of association with black labour. “It’s the most painful thing in the studio,” she said. “I have it there because it is a representation of a feeling – something that causes me tremendous distress but is almost invisible.”

It was on top of a pile of books.”Autism detectionNew work by psychologist Devon Price. McLaudin said in 2001 a doctor suggested she was on the autism spectrum but dismissed the idea. She said, “She considered it negative.” But in 2019, she received a diagnosis – it took time and expensive – She still embraces his ideas.

“I hid for a long time,” she said. She lived with symptoms — overstimulation, nonverbal periods, confrontational behavior — while faking it in her art. Now it offers guidance. “I decided to make my experience as an autistic person, at the intersection of so many identities, a constant state of discomfort,” she said. “So work must be uncomfortable.”

Her autism experience played a role in the alchemy of events that produced “mask/hide/carry” (and add another layer of meaning to the title). When I started shooting training, the noise and movement were overwhelming. “My sensory issues have pushed me out of range,” she said. “I couldn’t get the sound off my skin.”

To equip herself, she did dry shooting — shooting without ammunition — in the studio. An app on the phone measured data from a knot on the gun and incorporated the information into the panels: it’s black with a little wobble in blue, green, white or red segments, traced in the data report graphic on a snapshot. “I can feel in my body everything I see here,” she said. “It’s like a graph.”

In the studio there was a toaster oven and a vacuum press to make sculptures of Kydex, a synthetic material often used in weapon cases. On the studio wall were texts printed on canvas from the new series. Some read like a mantra: “Practice to fail”, “Hold everything at once.”

“It’s a training on how to live with difference,” she explained. The other messages to herself – “Black madness on the edge of the Death Star” – had an even wilder feeling. “It’s almost like the name of a punk band,” she said.

Books in her library indicate other influences on the show, including titles of trauma and race; the sculptor Nancy Grossman raise their heads ritual servitude; Bronze Boys, WEB Du Bois’ leading data visuals for Black America. “He is able to communicate information about dire conditions to a whole group of people,” she said.

Shopping online for targets, McClodden discovered a world of step-by-step images: a shooter behind a car, a hostage situation. They are often used in law enforcement training and were fascinated that nearly all of the characters were white. I made a video where a series of photos show one dark silhouette below these characters.

But McLaden is here to observe, not to express his opinion. Sure, she has opinions – she supports”red flag“Laws prohibiting potentially dangerous people from owning guns; against gun access to minors, and “I don’t mind” bans on assault rifles. But this is not a show of gun policy.

“I am not interested in expressing or carrying grief on the greater community, as a black woman,” she said. “I am telling you how well I sleep at night. This is the system I knew at this time.”

Ebony L. Haynes, director of 52 Walker, who organized the show, said the show may seem appropriate, but it’s not about the news. “The material Tiona works with has a long history that is important to uncover,” Hines said.

“If ‘social change’ creeps into my business, I destroy it,” said McLaden.

McClodden has a samurai-like reputation in the art world, bolstered by her choice to stay in Philadelphia – where she has converted her studio annex into a small gallery and reading room called conceptual vanishing And to get away from the New York art scene. Her friends vacillate between expressing their admiration and pointing out her lighter sides.

“You use thumbtacks, Tiona uses a razor blade,” Sadie Barnett, with whom she shared her 2018 residency at Skowhegan School, said of her accuracy. At the same time, “She’s the one who drinks fine whiskey, the best party DJ in the summer, and she’s cute.”

“People are afraid!” the artist Kevin Beasley He said. “It has this ability to tighten up a space as soon as it enters a room.” He added, “It’s the audience you want, the one who makes you more aware of the decisions you make.”

MacLauden speaks frankly about her advantage. “I worked on some of my difficulties,” she said, “because I had to understand what they were.”

Growing up in Greenville, South Carolina, the family went through times of instability and transit. Smart and drawn to photography, she was drawn to the punk scene. She attended Clark Atlanta University but dropped out.

She’s a lesbian—she uses the term proudly, convinced she’s being marginalized—and speaks fondly of her mentors: “The butcher, the daggers, these are the people who took care of me when I was sneaking into the clubs.” Her first movieIn 2008, I met about 50 black lesbians from different backgrounds. “I was trying to complicate this monolith,” she said.

It has also found a home in the BDSM and eccentric realms, and in African and Afro-Cuban spiritualities; It began in Santería, and Orisha is Ogun, the god of iron and war. Its power is palpable Epic installation of the 2019 Whitney Biennale, which involved cutting a tree with an ax in Maine, carving ritual objects out of its wood in the studio, transporting them to Cuba and Nigeria and filming the process. I earned her $100,000 Bucksbaum Prize Awarded to an exceptional artist in the Biennale. Adam Weinberg, Whitney’s director, described her contribution as “extraordinarily rich in cultural, historical, and spiritual resonance.”

Her bravery is currently on display at MoMA in “The Brad Johnson Tape, X – On Subjugation,” a work first produced in 2017 and recently acquired by the Museum, in which she filmed herself reciting Johnson’s hair while hanging by her ankles from a podium. The display is completed with objects, books and a stream of rose petals.

“The work presents an extraordinary model of freedom,” he said. Lanka TattersalCurator of the Museum of Modern Art for Drawings and Prints. “Understanding and expressing your sexuality and eroticism to the maximum of your comfort possible is one of the greatest offerings an artist can give.”

The McClodden Project celebrates at The Shed black american dance, the flagship 1983 festival of the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Includes custom dance floors, video images of dancers of different styles and generations, and a performance series. one topic is Mickey Shepherdwho produced the original event.

“I’m glad she found out,” Shepherd said. “She’s documenting it again but with new eyes.”

McLeodden remembers spending extended periods of time driving an epidemic in Louisiana and Mississippi, where he researched “Play for me at homeHer installation at Prospect 5 triennial in 2021. It had been a drastic journey. She identified her relatives and saw the land they hold and other sites lost to predatory leases. She remembered how the men in her family – always men – were often hunted and served in Army.

Knowing herself as the shooter deepens this intimate journey. But art is a record for history. “This is about to be a materialistic culture at this time,” she said. “The statement is that I am in the world, and I did not try to escape my position in this world, and I wanted to be able to stand up for myself.” She added, “I’m not trying to hide behind slavery, or something like that in the 18th century. I’m like: From 2020 to 2022, that’s what I’ve been doing.”


Tiona Nekkia McClodden: Mask / Hide / Carry

During October 8, 52 Walker, 52 Walker Street, Manhattan (212) 727-1961; 52walker.com.

Teona Nikia MacLeodden: The Impact of Implicit Presence

Through December 11th at The Shed, 545 West 30th Street, New York, (646) 455-3494; theshed.org.

Tiona Nekkia McClodden, The Brad Johnson Tape, X – On Subject

Ongoing, Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd Street, Manhattan; (212) 708-9400. moma.org.