Ruba Katrib

  • passages January 30, 2019

    Nicola L. (1937–2018)

    WHEN THE POLICE INTERRUPTED her 1969 performance, The Red Coat Same Skin for Everyone, on the streets of Franco-era Barcelona, Nicola L. followed up by taking it to the stage in 1970. Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso had just left Brazil, fleeing political persecution, and invited her to perform with them at one of the more historic Isle of Wight festivals, where Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, and the Doors performed in front of thousands of attendees. In footage of the event, the Tropicália musicians play while a group of young people dance naked inside the coat. Nicola’s methodology was anchored


    IDA EKBLAD’S 2009 VIDEO In Exile from the Mineral Kingdom begins with a percussive flourish: In a tightly framed shot, we see somebody whacking pieces of scrap metal with a stick. Cut to the artist standing at the pinnacle of a giant junk heap, laboriously heaving pieces of scrap down to the bottom, presumably collecting them for one of the assemblages she has been producing since 2008. A mock-heroic bricoleur, she seems to be wryly performing her own process. On the sound track, we hear her reciting her poem “Mars Black Hues,” a meditation on restlessness, sleep, fragility, and strength.

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