Autumn Knight: Nothing #26: The Potential of Nothing is Everything (wallach)

Autumn Knight: Nothing #26: The Potential of Nothing is Everything (wallach)

Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University

February 6, 2023
Autumn Knight
Nothing #26: The Potential of Nothing is Everything (wallach)
February 3–March 12, 2023
Performance: February 26, 3pm
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery
Lenfest Center for the Arts
615 West 129th Street (Enter W 125th Street, b/w Broadway & 12th Avenue)
New York NY

The Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University’s Lenfest Center for the Arts is pleased to present Autumn Knight’s Nothing #26: The Potential of Nothing is Everything (wallach). This solo exhibition—referencing Jenny Odell’s 2019 book, How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy—hovers between the exploration of and reflection on the Italian phrase, dolce far niente or the sweetness of doing nothing. An experimental and multi-disciplinary project, Knight’s installations throughout the gallery include new videos accompanied by wallpaper derived from the artist’s drawings, a series of polaroids with images of the artist’s performances, object compositions, digital drawings, and a rotating platform. A highlight of the exhibition is a new, in-person performance by Knight on Sunday, February 26 at 3pm.

The notion of dolce far niente is approached through the lens of exhaustion, labor, and expectation that pairs this sweetness with the constant work involved in manifesting liberation. How do we do nothing and also do this necessary work? Over the past few years, and recently during a year-long fellowship at the American Academy in Rome, Knight has conducted research exercises and experiments, which have enriched her understanding of this concept. In Italy, where this status of inactivity was born and remains a unique cultural phenomenon, Knight was able to deepen her experience of the pleasure of doing nothing as a research experiment. 

Throughout the exhibition, the art examines the spark or the intense motivation to do nothing and the eligibility of any action to initiate nothing. Knight’s video works reflect an exploration of nothingness in separate moments with various objects handled in ways that reject the labor of meaning. As a practice, the artist tends to use found materials within a given environment to produce collaged moments that make available individualized constructions of meaning for the viewers who choose that labor. Chosen for their ease of access, the objects—a pair of nitrile gloves, cups and bowls, a banana—assist in bringing to life a conversation between inertia, liveness, and sweetness. They lose and then regain their individual contexts through cycles of stillness, action, void, liveness, and nothingness. The objects are accompanied by new texts—observations, small poems, little plays, facts, prose—written during visits and residencies in Kingston, Jamaica; Venice, Italy; and Cambridge, Massachusetts. They blend fact, fiction, history, memory, observation, and a nod to gesture. The production of the videos is guided by aesthetic decisions associated with other Italian cultural outputs such as the Arte Povera movement in an effort to strip down in a move towards a dolce far niente. Nothing #26 operates as a companion to concepts explored in over a decade of the artist’s live performances, where the content performs the labor of anticipation and curiosity is driven by open ended dialogue with audiences. “Doing nothing” is a directive to relieve pressure on the viewer as they encounter the artist’s creative production. The viewer, through the labor of looking, decides what is worthy of seeing or what is worth the labor of the attribution of meaning.

Knight is the recipient of the Rome Prize (2022) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2022). She attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2016), and completed an MA in Drama Therapy from New York University (2010). Her work has been presented at various institutions including The Studio Museum of Harlem; Institute for Contemporary Art (VCU), Richmond, Virginia; Human Resources, Los Angeles; Akademie der Kunst, Berlin; Portland Institute for Contemporary Art; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; American Academy of Rome; On the Boards, Seattle; Abrons Arts Center, New York; The Kitchen, New York; and Shedhalle, Zurich.

Autumn Knight’s in-person performance takes place on Sunday, February 26, 2023 at 3pm in The Lantern at the Lenfest Center for the Art. Registration is required as space is limited; register here.

The exhibition and performance are open to the public, and provided free of charge.

Nothing #26: The Potential of Nothing is Everything (wallach), an immersive gallery-wide installation, was commissioned by the Wallach Art Gallery.  The Wallach Art Gallery’s exhibition programs are made possible with support from the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Endowment Fund, the Charina Endowment Fund, and the gallery’s patrons.

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Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University
February 6, 2023

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