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Martine Syms, Notes on Gesture, 2015, video, color, sound, 10 minutes 33 seconds.

Martine Syms

Bridget Donahue

Martine Syms, Notes on Gesture, 2015, video, color, sound, 10 minutes 33 seconds.

Martine Syms has lectured in venues as varied as the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, and, this past September, in a field on the outskirts of Storm King Art Center in New Windsor, New York. There, seated at a table with a makeshift AV setup, she played a recording of James Taylor’s 1968 ballad “Something in the Way She Moves.” The wistful vocals momentarily heightened the easy romance of a countryside evening, but then Syms began speaking of how she grew up studying her aunt—in effect transposing Taylor’s admiration of a nameless lover onto a black teenager’s observation of a role model. The song became a meditation on gesture, on the ineffable “something” that invests a body in motion with allure, authority, or authenticity. A little over a week later, Syms opened her solo exhibition “Vertical Elevated Oblique.” The title pilfers

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