“History is not something given, a fixed, chronological linear outline with blank spots waiting to be filled with newly unearthed facts. It's the activity over time of all the minds compromising it, the sum of these parts that produces a greater ecological whole. History, the past is what you're thinking, what you've thought. You, the individual, you the enabler and product of the collective enterprise of mind. History is mind, is driven by mind in the same sense a flock of migratory birds, its configuration, destination, purpose, destiny are propelled, guided by the collective mind of members of the immediate flock and also the species, all kindred birds past and present inhabiting Great Time.”
-John Edgar Wideman
moniquemeloche is pleased to present Nate Young: (un)time, the artist’s fifth solo exhibition with the gallery.
(un)time reveals a series of new drawings by Nate Young that are a continuation of works which stem from a shared source image–a photograph of Young posing with his horse, based on his memory of a photograph of his great grandfather also posing with his horse–referencing the story of his equestrian escape from North Carolina to Pennsylvania. Dealing with notions of remembrance, identity, and death, the artist recreates this imagery as an attempt to access the past in the present, thinking about how images and memories behave in the presence of (un)time.
“Untime” is a framework for the absence of time, and in this context, its relation to Blackness and its immeasurable, permanent condition of being that is dictated by an endless proximity to death (Murillo 54). Each image depicting the artist and his horse and/or his ancestor and their horse offers an ontological glimpse into the temporal distance (or overlap) between two identities. The figures, with their haunting presence, each shift slightly, yet appear frozen against a vast cosmic backdrop, which the artist carefully renders in graphite. They subsist in various distortions–warping, duplicating, blurring–a visualization of Black atemporality, or Black untime, which is dictated by persistent time loss, lapse and loops, a result of the indeterminate negation of Blackness in history, politics, and culture (55). Some figures recede and disappear entirely through the use of vellum, a semi opaque material which Young deliberately employs to obscure their appearance. Like trying to recall an old memory, the figures’ relationship to the viewer is constantly shifting, suggesting an unknowable relationship to time. In what appears to be a sequence of various stages of erasure, we are left in this simultaneous in-between state of never having existed, or, not being while existing (60).
Taken together, (un)time is a meditation on personal and collective memory within the historical framework of Black erasure. By repeatedly rendering and recuperating his personal memory, Young underwrites the notion that the past only exists because we reproduce it.
Nate Young (b.1981 Phoenixville, PA, lives Chicago, IL) received his MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 2009 and BA from Northwestern College in 2004. He attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2009 and was invited back as a Dean of the residency in 2015. That same year, Young exhibited his first solo show with moniquemeloche, followed by a solo booth at Artissima, Italy, and a duo booth at UNTITLED Miami. Since then, Young’s work has been shown at Bridge Projects, Los Angeles, CA (2021); Museum of Contemporary Arts, Chicago, IL (2021); De Pree Art Gallery, Holland, MI (2020); The Driehaus Museum, Chicago, IL (2020); Front Triennial at the Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, OH (2018); Visual Arts Center, Richmond Virginia (2017); and The Studio Museum, Harlem, NY (2012).His work is in the permanent collections of DePaul Art Museum, Chicago, IL; Fabric Workshop Museum, Philadelphia, PA; Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.
Murillo III, John. Impossible Stories, On the Space and Time of Black Destructive Creation. Columbus, OH, Ohio State University Press, January 2021