IN PRAISE OF NARI WARD
Make no mistake Nari Ward has been leading the way for a long time. His spare and beautifully installed mid-career survey at the New Museum We the People, reveals a range and sensitivity that not only underscores sculptures prowess, but also Ward’s ability to ground us, bring us back home (wherever that may be)—and ultimately give voice to an expansive African diaspora in all of its strength, beauty, trauma and resistance. We the People affirms that Ward is one of our most treasured and influential artists working today. The grainy and seductive video documentation of Ward in Pushing Savoir, 1996, where the artist is seen pushing a “regal version of a cart often used by homeless people to collect recyclables or store their belongings”, here through the streets of Harlem, is the image that stays with me and speaks to the symbolic power of Ward’s practice. No matter where I am, it is this moving image of Ward exercising his own agency—his will to make and be a part of the world—that fills me with an immense sense of power and pride. Now that is real power!
Nari Ward’s We the People runs through this Sunday, May 26th at the New Museum. Image via Lehmann Maupin.