Critics’ Picks

Nicole Miller, Michael in Black, 2018, bronze, 42 x 15 1/2 x 22".

Nicole Miller, Michael in Black, 2018, bronze, 42 x 15 1/2 x 22".

Los Angeles

Nicole Miller

Kristina Kite
3400 W Washington Blvd
December 1, 2018–January 26, 2019

In Nicole Miller’s exhibition “For Now,” three works form a meditation on race and identity that subtly prods the notion of a fixed or true self.

In the video Pino (all works 2018), voice actor Pino Insegno, who is white, considers his frequent casting to voice black actors when American movies are dubbed in Italian. Between his musings on-screen, he performs dialogue from roles he’s voiced, including those for Jamie Foxx in Ray (2004) and Will Smith in Ali (2001). The video alternates with For Now, a laser projection of the titular phrase that undergoes shifts in shape, color, and legibility for forty-four minutes.

The video and laser works are accompanied by Michael in Black, a black patinated bronze sculpture of Michael Jackson kneeling in a pose of devotion or contrition, made from plaster casts of his body from the late 1980s. This is a memorial to a performer whose identity seemed to be in constant flux, most famously due to his ever-lightening skin color. Yet the figure’s missing hands remind us that Jackson had a tenuous hold on his public image. As a counterpoint to Pino, which divulges Insegno's assumption of black bodies, and in the context of an exhibition about temporality and change, the work reminds us of the crucial factor of control. Miller’s immersive storytelling and hypnotic visuals deftly handle weighty sociopolitical and metaphysical themes. Her registers of engagement suggest the artist is aiming to connect with viewers, not only to speak herself but to start a conversation.