New York

Lorraine O’Grady

Alexander Gray Associates

In 1980, at Just Above Midtown Gallery in New York, Lorraine O’Grady presented her first official (which is to say first invited) public performance piece, Nefertiti/Devonia Evangeline. The work followed closely on the heels of the artist’s more (in her words) “hit-and-run” foray into performance, Mlle Bourgeoise Noire—in which she showed up at New York art openings as the title character, unannounced and uninvited, calling attention to those deeply raced, gendered, and classed environments—and likewise concerned itself with issues of representation.

But Nefertiti/Devonia Evangeline made unapologetic strides into more overtly autobiographical terrain. Indeed, it was, in part, a working through of a painful event: Two decades prior, when the artist was in her late twenties, her older sister, Devonia, with whom she’d had a strained relationship, had suddenly and unexpectedly died. Although

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