September 27, 2019 - SculptureCenter - Searching the Sky for Rain / École du soir (The Evening Academy)
September 27, 2019


Installation view, Searching the Sky for Rain, SculptureCenter, New York, 2019. Photo: Kyle Knodell

Searching the Sky for Rain
École du soir (The Evening Academy)
September 16–December 16, 2019

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Searching the Sky for Rain
This exhibition brings together works by artists who disregard the ways in which the art industry regulates, classifies, compartmentalizes, and essentializes difference into sanctioned categories. The artists in Searching the Sky for Rain defy the fracking of particularities into niche-marketed, T-shirt formulations of “identities” for institutional meaning and value production. These exploitative processes administer domination, forcing heterogeneity into operational packages for the stylization of a lukewarm cosmopolitanism.

The resulting rhetorical conflation of the maker and the work has led some producers to contend for the most bona fide representation in a highly competitive field where “authenticity” is rewarded as the primary source of value. While the proclaimed dominant position enjoys a hotline to abstract and structural thinking, others are often accorded only bare biography or story-time “feels” in the critical consideration and institutional presentation of their work. The question raised by Searching the Sky for Rain is: who has the right to abstraction? This question is neither a “theme” nor is necessarily the main concern of the included works, but it is at times one of their many components, or is indicative of a discursive ambivalence toward the worn-out framing devices that are formulated by the industry.

Against the backdrop of today’s hyper-expressionism, which in the absence of reflexivity poses the “self” as a coordinate with direct access to “truth,” the works in this exhibition advance the subject’s inherent non-sovereignty and unlocatability. As a character in Becket MWN’s audio work Paranoid House puts it, “anytime individuality is institutionally mandated it becomes a performance.”

Using various methodologies and strategies, the artists in the exhibition resist prescribing or following readily available image templates, relinquishing the pop-up politics of instant visibility. In Tony Cokes’ video Evil.27.Selma, we read how the pre-television civil rights movement prompted a “social collectivity heavily dependent on the imagination” that created abundance of “fantasy what-if” scenarios. The artists in Searching the Sky for Rain rally for such not-yet-articulated aesthetics.

The exhibition includes work by: Carmen Argote, Tony Cokes, Rafael Domenech, Mandy El-Sayegh, Charles Gaines, ektor garcia, Jacqueline Kiyomi Gordon, Tishan Hsu, Rindon Johnson, Becket MWN, Shahryar Nashat, Michael Queenland, Johanna Unzueta, Jala Wahid, Eric Wesley, and Riet Wijnen.

Related Programming:
Riet Wijnen – Conversation Six: Double-Lines
Tuesday, September 17, 2019, 7pm

École du soir (The Evening Academy)
Christian Nyampeta’s project consists of a scriptorium (a place for writing), an exhibition, and public programs concerned with “thinking Africa,” then and now. The program is resourced around the idea of an “evening school,” following the Senegalese writer and film director Sembène Ousmane, who saw cinema as “cours du soir” or “evening classes.” This concept was informed by the traditions of orality, sensuality, and conviviality within the realm of art learning and making in his region.

Nyampeta’s project at SculptureCenter includes a number of “hosting structures”—a polyformal system of inhabitable sculptural and functional prototypes. These structures create a study room hosting a translation and interpretation working group that will focus on making texts by Rwandan philosopher Isaïe Nzeyimana available in English for the first time. The structures further hold a repository of translations, a printer, publications, and a dossier of new, current, and past sessions held with groups in Amsterdam, Dakar, Johannesburg, Kampala, Kigali, Leipzig, Lubumbashi, London, Maseru, and Mechelen. Guests, visitors, and other members of the audience are welcome to make use of these resources, attend the translation sessions, or simply use the space during their visit to the museum.

The project aims to make this translated knowledge available to artists, curators, and researchers who are interested in further study of other epistemologies that come out of historical ruptures, discontinuities, disjointed continuities, and modes of thinking that do not follow the post/ante doctrine.

As 2019 marks 25 years since the Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsi, this project is a contribution to a movement across its global meaning today. In some ways, the Rwandan genocide can be read as a metonym for a wider self-destruction in the world at large. Despite its own limits and contradictions, the sensibility developed in Isaïe Nzeyimana’s work motions toward a heartwarming intellectual promiscuity: it performs as a thinking hand, fighting against the degradation of life and of living together, but also against the threat to life caused by the disappearance of the habitable environments on our planet. This philosophy revives what would otherwise be lost, and it carries a promise, which compels us to rethink life.

The translation and interpretation working group includes: Nana Adusei-Poku, Shariffa Ali, Mirene Arsanios, Omar Berrada, Sasha Bonet, Emmanuel Iduma, Natacha Nsabimana, Christian Nyampeta, Kaneza Schaal, and Moses Serubiri.  The group will convene during our monthly extended hours until 9pm on the evenings of Thursday, October 17, and Thursday, November 21.

Isaïe Nzeyimana will join Christian Nyampeta for a public presentation and discussion around his work.


About SculptureCenter
SculptureCenter’s fall exhibitions are curated by Sohrab Mohebbi, Curator, with Kyle Dancewicz, Director of Exhibitions and Programs.

École du soir (The Evening Academy) is made possible with financial support from the Mondriaan Fund, the public cultural funding organization focusing on visual arts and cultural heritage. Searching the Sky for Rain and École du soir (The Evening Academy) are supported as part of the Dutch Culture USA program by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.

SculptureCenter leads the conversation on contemporary art by supporting artistic innovation and independent thought highlighting sculpture’s specific potential to change the way we engage with the world. Positioning artists’ work in larger cultural, historical, and aesthetic contexts, SculptureCenter discerns and interprets emerging ideas. Founded by artists in 1928, SculptureCenter provides an international forum that connects artists and audiences by presenting exhibitions, commissioning new work, and generating scholarship.

For more information, please visit

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École du soir (The Evening Academy)
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