Tiona Nekkia McClodden, THE FULL SEVERITY OF COMPASSION, 2019, Manual cattle squeeze chute, paint, 104 × 68 × 97 in (264.16 × 172.72 × 246.38 cm) “Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America,” 2021. Exhibition view: New Museum, New York. Photo: Dario Lasagni.

Tiana Nekkia McClodden
b.1981 , Blytheville, AR

Manual cattle squeeze chute, paint
Courtesy the artist 

Philadelphia-based artistTiona Nekkia McClodden has developed a multidisciplinary practice that challenges fixed historical narratives of race, gender, and sexuality. Engaging with issues of memory, the archive, and documentation, she questions how traditions within the global Black community persist across time and space.

THE FULL SEVERITY OF COMPASSION (2019) is a fully functioning cattle squeeze-a piece of machinery used to provide a false sense of comfort to a cow before it is slaughtered. By painting it black, McClodden aestheticizes an operational object, turning it into an abstract sculpture of lines and planes that cohere into a readable composition. The physical sensations of pleasure and pain and the threat of imminent death complicate a straightforward reading of the sculpture, charging it with a multiplicity of possible interpretations.

THE FULL SEVERITY OF COMPASSION alludes to the personal as well. The artist has been diagnosed on the autism spectrum, and she selected the cattle squeeze for its historical significance: the apparatus was the inspiration for the device that autism advocates and animal behaviorist Temple Grandin developed to alleviate hypersensitivity for people with autism. Furthermore, the work was the centerpiece of the exhibition "Hold on, let me take the safety off," presented at Company Gallery in 2019, which was inspired by the sexual practices of BDSM, a community that McClodden is openly a part of. The body implied in the work is not the neutral body heralded by modernist sculpture but one that is premised on difference and marked by McClodden's identity as a queer woman of color.

-Maya Harakawa

[Exhibition wall text]

From February 17 to June 6, 2021, the New Museum will present “Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America,” an exhibition originally conceived by Okwui Enwezor (1963-2019) for the New Museum, and presented with curatorial support from advisors Naomi Beckwith, Massimiliano Gioni, Glenn Ligon, and Mark Nash. “Grief and Grievance” will be an intergenerational exhibition, bringing together thirty-seven artists working in a variety of mediums who have addressed the concept of mourning, commemoration, and loss as a direct response to the national emergency of racist violence experienced by Black communities across America. The exhibition will further consider the intertwined phenomena of Black grief and a politically orchestrated white grievance, as each structures and defines contemporary American social and political life. “Grief and Grievance” will comprise works encompassing video, painting, sculpture, installation, photography, sound, and performance made in the last decade, along with several key historical works and a series of new commissions created in response to the concept of the exhibition.

In 2018, the New Museum invited Okwui Enwezor to organize “Grief and Grievance.” Around that time, Enwezor was also developing a series of public talks for the Alain LeRoy Locke Lectures at Harvard University, focused on the intersection of Black mourning and white nationalism in American life as articulated in the work of contemporary Black American artists. The argument put forth in this series–which he unfortunately was unable to deliver–informed the ideas Enwezor would use as the basis for “Grief and Grievance.” Between the fall of 2018 and March 2019, Enwezor tirelessly worked on “Grief and Grievance,” drafting his thesis for the exhibition, compiling lists of artists and artworks, selecting the catalogue contributors, and speaking with many of the invited artists. In January 2019, Enwezor asked the artist Glenn Ligon to serve as an advisor to the exhibition. Given the advanced state of planning and the importance of the exhibition, following Enwezor’s death on March 15, 2019, and with the support of his estate and of many of his friends and collaborators, the New Museum established an advisory team, comprised of longtime collaborators and friends of Enwezor including Glenn Ligon; Mark Nash, Professor at the University of California in Santa Cruz, and co-curator of many of Enwezor’s projects, including The Short Century and Documenta 11; and Naomi Beckwith, the Manilow Senior Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, whom Enwezor had chosen as one of the jurors of his 2015 Venice Biennale. With the assistance of Massimiliano Gioni, Edlis Neeson Artistic Director at the New Museum, this curatorial advisory group worked together to realize and interpret Enwezor’s vision for “Grief and Grievance.” The curatorial advisors and the New Museum also see this exhibition as a tribute to Enwezor’s work and legacy.

Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America 

Curated by Okwui Enwezor

New Museum - NYC

FEB 17 -JUNE 6, 2021

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