Dancer Leslie Cuyjet in Tiona Nekkia McClodden’s The Trace of An Implied Presence, 2021. Multichannel HD video, color, sound, running times variable. © Tiona Nekkia McClodden, 2022. Courtesy the artist.
August 3 – December 11, 2022
Opening reception: August 3, 6 – 8 pm
The Shed is pleased to present Tiona Nekkia McClodden’s The Trace of an Implied Presence, on view August 3 through December 11, 2022.
The Trace of an Implied Presence meditates on the living history and influence of contemporary Black dance in the United States. The exhibition centers on a multichannel video installation inspired by the artist’s research into the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 1983 landmark festival, Dance Black America, a dynamic presentation of American dance that featured legendary Black dancers, choreographers, scholars, and dance companies. In The Shed’s Level 2 Gallery, the installation features four individual dance floors that function as stages for projected images of archival dance footage, film portraits of key figures involved with the festival, and the artist’s own documentation of the Philly Bop, a Black social dance from her native Philadelphia.
Approaching her research in BAM’s Hamm Archives as a conversation with the materials she discovered and those who have come before her, McClodden began a dialogue with Mikki Shepard, the lead curator who programmed and produced the festival and appears in each of the four film portraits. Along with Patricia Kerr Ross (now deceased), Shepard organized the weekend celebration of 300 years of African American dance with performances, workshops, and panels, all centering Blackness and the African diaspora. The multichannel video installation in The Trace of an Implied Presence showcases four different forms of dance featured within this presentation, which have been specifically selected as representations of what dance is today as performed by Black performers.
The gallery is demarcated by four illuminated square dance floors, each composed of distinctive materials that respond to the specific needs of different forms of dance: a Marley floor for modern and concert dance and a wood floor for tap dance, for example. Hovering above each floor is a screen with a projected film portrait of the singular figures or groups McClodden has collaborated with, including Shepard, scholar and tap dancer Michael J. Love, dancer and choreographer Leslie Cuyjet, the Rod Rodgers Dance Company, and dancers Audrey and June, a couple upholding the legacy of the Philly Bop. Visitors to the exhibition whether novices or professionals are invited to make use of these floors and document themselves performing at any time during the show. Continuing McClodden’s ongoing work of exploring ideas belonging to the African diaspora across multiple disciplines and approaches, The Trace of an Implied Presence weaves together film, performance, sculpture, and sound in a single space. The work amplifies the powerful presence of movement and dance history as a thriving, living record that persists beyond the archive onto the stage and into the street.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a free publication featuring a text by McClodden as well as newly commissioned essays by writers selected by the artist: poet and dancer Harmony Holiday and scholars Jasmine E. Johnson and Samantha N. Sheppard, who together examine the history of Black dance and the nuance of physical and movement-based awareness on the dancer’s body as a living record.
The exhibition is accompanied by a series of in-gallery dance performances by McClodden’s collaborators, as well as a conversation between Mikki Shepherd and the artist, and a reading and book launch with Harmony Holiday.
The exhibition is organized by Tiona Nekkia McClodden and co-produced by The Shed and Nike.
The Shed’s multidisciplinary commissioning program is conceived by Artistic Director and CEO Alex Poots with the senior program team, including Andria Hickey, Chief Curator; Tamara McCaw, Chief Civic Program Officer; Madani Younis, Chief Executive Producer; and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Senior Program Advisor.
Schedule of Events
Friday, August 11 at 5:30 pm
Opening conversation: Mikki Shepard and Tiona Nekkia McClodden
Cultural worker and programmer Mikki Shepard has been a vital collaborator for McClodden throughout the making of this new work. Together they will discuss the legacy of Black Dance America, the materiality of the archive, cultural production, and its reverberations in the Black dance community today.
Saturday, August 27 at 4 pm
Philly Bop Class: Audrey and June
Audrey and June, two well-known dancers within the East Coast bop and social dance community, present the Philly Bop, a Black social dance and the official dance of Philadelphia.
Saturday, September 10 at 4 pm
Tap performance: Michael J. Love
Interdisciplinary tap dance artist, scholar, and educator Michael J. Love will present a new tap dance developed in response to McClodden’s invitation. His embodied research intermixes Black queer feminist theory and aesthetics with a rigorous practice that critically engages the Black cultural past as it imagines Black futurity.
Saturday, October 22 at 4 pm
Dance performance: Leslie Cuyjet
Please visit shed.org for more details
Friday, November 12 at 4 pm
Dance performance: Rod Rodgers Dance Company
Please visit shed.org for more details
Tickets for Tiona Nekkia McClodden: The Trace of an Implied Presence will be available at theshed.org or (646) 455-3494. The exhibition is on view Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 11 am to 8 pm, and Sunday, Wednesday, from 11 am to 6 pm and Admission in August is free but advance tickets are recommended. The exhibition will be off view September 16 – 27. Additional information on The Shed’s health and safety policies and how to plan a visit is available at www.theshed.org/visit.
About Tiona Nekkia McClodden
Tiona Nekkia McClodden is a visual artist, filmmaker, and curator whose interdisciplinary approach traverses documentary film, experimental video, photography, sculpture, and sound installations. Her work addresses and critiques issues at the intersection of race, gender, sexuality, and social commentary, exploring shared ideas, values, and beliefs within the African diaspora, or what she calls “Black mentifact.” Her works have shown in major exhibitions, including most recently in Prospect 2021, New Orleans; New Grit: Art & Philly Now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and Owkui Enwezor’s Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America at the New Museum, New York. Other presentations of her work have been on view at Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), Berlin; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and MoMA PS1, New York. Work by McClodden is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Rennie Museum, Vancouver.
Nike and The Shed Partnership
The multi-year partnership between Nike, Inc. and The Shed honors a shared belie that art and sport can expand human potential. Nike, Inc. and The Shed are dedicated to expanding human performance and are committed to artistic creativity, empowerment, diversity, and risk-taking. During this partnership Nike, Inc. will collaborate in relevant programming connected to The Shed’s annual program. This summer’s partner programming includes the dance and DJ sets on The Shed’s Plaza and Tiona Nekkia McClodden’s exhibition, The Trace of an Implied Presence.
About Nike, Inc.
Nike, Inc., based near Beaverton, Oregon, is the world’s leading designer, marketer, and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment, and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities. Converse, a wholly owned Nike, Inc. subsidiary brand, designs, markets, and distributes athletic lifestyle footwear, apparel, and accessories. For more information, visit news.nike.com and follow @NIKE.
About The Shed
The Shed is a new cultural institution of and for the 21st century. We produce and welcome innovative art and ideas, across all forms of creativity, to build a shared understanding of our rapidly changing world and a more equitable society. In our highly adaptable building on Manhattan’s west side, The Shed brings together established and emerging artists to create new work in fields ranging from pop to classical music, painting to digital media, theater to literature, and sculpture to dance. We seek opportunities to collaborate with cultural peers and community organizations, work with like-minded partners, and provide unique spaces for private events. As an independent nonprofit that values invention, equity, and generosity, we are committed to advancing art forms, addressing the urgent issues of our time, and making our work impactful, sustainable, and relevant to the local community, the cultural sector, New York City, and beyond.