Nayland BLAKE

by Wonnie Song

15th Oct. 20091930007.47

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.


From “About Nayland Blake” on Nayland Blake, artist, instigator:
Nayland Blake is an artist, writer and educator. Born in New York Hospital in 1960, he currently resides in Brooklyn. His work is represented by Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, Fred, London and Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco. His work is included in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum, The Studio Museum of Harlem, LA MoCa, The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the DeYoung Museum, among others. He has exhibited through out the United States and Europe. As a writer his work has appeared in Interview Magazine, Artforum, Out, and OutLook. He is the author of numerous catalog essays. In 1994 he co-curated with Lawrence Rinder the exhibition In a Different Light, the first major museum exhibition to examine the impact of queer artists on contemporary art.
He is currently employed as the Chair of the ICP/Bard Masters program in Advanced Photographic Studies at the International Center of Photography.

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