The Shed presents 'Tiona Nekkia McClodden: The Trace of an Implied Presence'
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The Shed presents 'Tiona Nekkia McClodden: The Trace of an Implied Presence'
Dancer Leslie Cuyjet in Tiona Nekkia McClodden’s The Trace of An Implied Presence, 2021. Multichannel HD video, color, sound, running times variable. © Tiona Nekkia McClodden, 2022. Courtesy of the artist.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Shed presents Tiona Nekkia McClodden’s The Trace of an Implied Presence, on view August 3 through December 11, 2022.

The Trace of an Implied Presence meditates on the living history and influence of contemporary Black dance in the United States. The exhibition centers on a multichannel video installation inspired by the artist’s research into the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 1983 landmark festival, Dance Black America, a dynamic presentation of American dance that featured legendary Black dancers, choreographers, scholars, and dance companies. In The Shed’s Level 2 Gallery, the installation features four individual dance floors that function as stages for projected images of archival dance footage, film portraits of key figures involved with the festival, and the artist’s own documentation of the Philly Bop, a Black social dance from Philadelphia.

Approaching her research in BAM’s Hamm Archives as a conversation with the materials she discovered and those who have come before her, McClodden began a dialogue with Mikki Shepard, the lead curator who programmed and produced the festival and appears in each of the four film portraits. Along with Patricia Kerr Ross (now deceased), Shepard organized the weekend celebration of 300 years of African American dance with performances, workshops, and panels, all centering Blackness and the African diaspora. The multichannel video installation in The Trace of an Implied Presence showcases four different forms of dance featured within this presentation, which have been specifically selected as representations of what dance is today as performed by Black performers.

The gallery is demarcated by four illuminated square dance floors, each composed of distinctive materials that respond to the specific needs of different forms of dance: a Marley floor for modern and concert dance and a wood floor for tap dance, for example. Hovering above each floor is a screen with a projected film portrait of the singular figures or groups McClodden has collaborated with, including Shepard, scholar and tap dancer Michael J. Love, dancer and choreographer Leslie Cuyjet, the Rod Rodgers Dance Company, and dancers Audrey and June, a couple upholding the legacy of the Philly Bop. Visitors to the exhibition—whether novices or professionals—are invited to make use of these floors and document themselves performing at any time during the show.

Continuing McClodden’s ongoing work of exploring ideas belonging to the African diaspora across multiple disciplines and approaches, The Trace of an Implied Presence weaves together film, performance, sculpture, and sound in a single space. The work amplifies the powerful presence of movement and dance history as a thriving, living record that persists beyond the archive onto the stage and into the street.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a free publication featuring a text by McClodden as well as newly commissioned essays by writers selected by the artist: poet and dancer Harmony Holiday and scholars Jasmine E. Johnson and Samantha N. Sheppard, who together examine the history of Black dance and the nuance of physical and movement-based awareness on the dancer’s body as a living record.

The exhibition is accompanied by a series of in-gallery dance performances by McClodden’s collaborators, as well as a conversation between Mikki Shepherd and the artist, and a reading and book launch with Harmony Holiday.

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