Las Nietas de Nonó: Posibles Escenarios, Vol. 1 LNN September 16 – December 3, 2022
Artists Space is pleased to present Posibles Escenarios, Vol. 1 LNN, the first ever solo exhibition of Las Nietas de Nonó, the Puerto Rico based afro-diasporic siblings, mulowayi and mapenzi nonó.
Weaving together performance, reusable and found objects, organic materials, ecology, fiction, video, and installation, this major exhibition will foreground the artist’s utterly imaginative approaches to advocacy and liberation.
Posibles Escenarios, Vol. 1 LNN is a new a suite of multimedia works that will extend Las Nietas’s explorations of themes such as the medical industrial complex, processes of expropriation and colonial violence against Black communities, and the development of microhistories in relation to geopolitics.
Throughout Artists Space’s ground floor, a series of interconnected abstract, biomorphic mixed-media installations will prompt visceral, emotional, and sensory responses—the largest of which will be a massive biodegradable installation.
Entitled Sala Portal Omi, a continuous wall of hand-stitched strips of dried SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast)—the fermentation discs that develop during the production of kombucha—will envelop visitors as they move through the gallery.
The locally sourced SCOBY serves as the luminous, fleshlike backdrop for a multi-sensory black box environment where the aroma of kombucha meets recordings of natural sounds, creating what the artist calls “a restorative place for healing.”
Believing that performative manifestations have healing power and are vehicles to unveil silenced histories, Las Nietas will design the installation to double as a stage for a new theatrical performance.
When activated, the environment functions as a kind of living theater with little separation between audience and performer sharing a communal space.
Over the course of the exhibition, Artists Space will present three performances by Las Nietas, the remnants of which will transform the installation itself.
This new commission builds on their recent work No More Tears presented at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2021), an exploration of familial history as well as a meditation on the emotional and mental paradigms that emerge from mass incarceration.
Entering the next section of this polymorphous exhibition, visitors will travel through a series of landscapes populated by organic matter, living organisms, experimental sound, and film.
Composed of threaded, copper coconut fiber—natural material extracted from the fibrous outer husk of coconut—the work becomes a key element in the mise en scène.
Las Nietas’s choreography of the room also will include scene shifting, a theatrical device commonly used to indicate a change of locale.
Occupying a suite of elm and pine tree stumps, visitors will watch a new fictional autobiographical film, FOODTOPIA: en el suelo áspero, set in Rome and reflecting on Las Nietas’s experiences of land and diaspora.
Works like Especie: archivo natural, a sound installation composed of domestic objects, greenery, and aquariums, create an immersive, sensorial environment of rapid beats, rhythmic rap songs, and natural melodies—cycling through sound much like an album tracklist.
Contact microphones placed in aquariums amplify the underwater fish tank aerators, and phone booth recordings foreground the rhythms of Boriken natural landscapes—from springs to cave echoes—an attempt at archiving nature’s vibrations in the midst of displacement caused by the legacy of colonialism and the current climate crisis.
Also on view will be el flujo oculto de agua/the hidden flow of water, a participatory site that will engage visitors with a hidden performance and a game of emotion-oriented question surrounding that displacement and the remnants of colonialism at the core of Las Nietas’s activism within their community in Puerto Rico.
Community organizing has always been a fundamental aspect of Las Nietas’s expansive practice.
In collaboration with neighbors in Barrio San Antón, they ran the space Patio Taller (active from 2011 to 2019), a community center and performance space on their grandfather’s land.
In 2019, they founded the community-based social justice organization Parceleras Afrocaribeñas with neighbors in Barrio San Antón.
With a dedication to building safe community spaces, collectivity, and knowledge exchange in both their artwork and activism, these can be read as a set of discursive platforms to reflect on issues of ecology, land, food autonomy, and to strategize about modes of survival and recovery.
Las Nietas de Nonó will perform within the exhibition on the following dates: Thursday, October 27, 2022 at 7pm Saturday, October 29, 2022 at 1pm Sunday, October 30, 2022 at 7pm
Biography: The afro-diasporic siblings mulowayi (b. Puerto Rico, 1979) and mapenzi nonó (b. Puerto Rico, 1982) are Las Nietas de Nonó. In their creative process, they evoke ancestral memory through personal archives.
Their practice incorporates performance, found objects, organic materials, ecology, fiction, video, and installation.
In 2016, they created Ilustraciones de la Mecánica, a multimedia installation that was also commissioned by the 10th Berlin Biennial (2018) and by the 79th Whitney Biennial (2019).
They have received the United States Artist Award (2018), The Art of Change from the Ford Foundation (2017), and the Global Arts Fund from the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice (2017 and 2020).
La Nietas de Nonó are the recipients of the 2022 Rome Prize in Visual Art at the American Academy in Rome. Their art has been shown in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, England, Germany, Haiti, Italy, Norway, Puerto Rico, Scotland, the United States.
In 2019, they co-founded Parceleras Afrocaribeñas, an organization run by Black womxn, where spaces for environmental and racial justice are created in the face of industrial developments that threaten their barrio of San Antón, in Carolina, Puerto Rico.
All Images from the exhibition courtesy of Artists Space