by Wonnie Song
15th Oct. 2009
Upon first google, Nayland Blake is a very intimidating man. The words “disturbing”, “provocative”, “elusive” and “tormented” jumped out at me from the 152, 000 results returned about the artist. Nervously, I clicked the first link and was directed to a disappointingly short Wikipedia entry about Blake and his art. Apparently, masochism, pansexuality and his biracial heritage are the main themes of his “sinister, hysterical, brutal and tender” mixed-media work. I followed some of the hyperlinks supplied at the bottom of the page and found several descriptions of his art that were thoroughly jarring. For instance, Art in America Magazine reported that his show at Matthew Marks Gallery in 2000, included eight tar bunnies “dangling from a charcoal drawing, dead, hanging from a chain”.
Unnerved, I returned to trusty Google to try another route of inquiry. The second result was Blake’s own website, entitled Nayland Blake, artist, instigator. Here, I found links to his blog, an “About Nayland Blake” and even a “biy (Blake it Yourself)” page that provides step-by-step instructions on how to recreate a Blake piece. In his laid-back, friendly style of writing, I found a man far removed from intimidating, who light-heartedly writes about his mother, his dog and his reusable shopping bag from Trader Joe’s.
So, as the “About Nayland Blake” page so aptly asks, “Who is Nayland Blake?” This remains to be seen when our class meets him next Wednesday morning.