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This is the first exhibition from the Wattis Institute since it closed in March due to COVID–19,


CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts announces Nothing is Eternal, a solo exhibition from interdisciplinary artist Jeffrey Gibson (b. 1972, Colorado, U.S.) featuring a single work-a newly commissioned video with musical composition-opening Thursday, October 22.

The first exhibition from the Wattis Institute since it closed in March due to COVID-19, Jeffrey Gibson: Nothing is Eternal is a hybrid, part in-person, part online exhibition that circumvents traditional institutional barriers with screenings outside the physical space of the Wattis Institute. The exhibition opens in person on Thursday, October 22, 7-9 pm, at the Tenderloin National Forest (501 Ellis Street, San Francisco) and ends in December with outdoor screenings at the Headlands Center for the Arts (944 Simmonds Road, Sausalito; check soon for dates). Beginning Friday, October 30, the immersive video work will be on view on the Wattis Institute's website. Please check soon for additional online screenings at partner organizations and public programs to be announced.

"Nothing is Eternal tracks my impulses during this time," says Jeffrey Gibson, who began working on the video at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, amidst global uncertainty; the unjust police killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many other Black individuals; and the growing unrest and division in the United States. "My attempts to stabilize myself, to see myself, to see others, to feel, and to try and focus and not lose sight that there is a future on the other side of this particular moment. The challenge is to not hold on too tight, to not retreat into our past habits and comfort zones, and to allow change to happen even if it makes us feel destabilized and uncomfortable. We may be in this space for a while. Please remember Audre Lorde's words: 'Each time you love, love as deeply as if it were forever only, nothing is eternal.'"

Gibson's work references various aesthetic and material histories rooted in Indigenous cultures of the Americas, and in modern and contemporary subcultures. A member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and of Cherokee descent, he is forging a multifarious practice that redresses the exclusion and erasure of Indigenous art traditions from the history of Western art as it explores the complexity and fluidity of identity.

Jeffrey Gibson: Nothing is Eternal is curated by Kim Nguyen and organized by Diego Villalobos. Special thanks to Sikkema Jenkins & Co., Kavi Gupta Gallery, and Roberts Projects.

Conceived during this pandemic era, the immersive video work depicts the American flag in unsettling stillness, as a marker of territory and projected onto bodies, while set to a heartrending soundtrack. At once melancholic and beautiful, Gibson renders the iconic image of the flag as both elastic and unyielding. The slow transformation through time, color, and form reflects both a distillation of our social collapse and the reinvention of self and community, referencing the movement and change that is so desired for this nation.

Nothing is Eternal is reminiscent of Gibson's painting practice, which foregrounds affinities between patterns, colors, and materials long used in Native American art and those characteristic of contemporary Western and global art traditions. His investigations of color relationships and use of the grid as a structuring device engage with the history of geometric abstraction, but the pieces also recall weaving and other material references found in Indigenous art. In resisting preconceived notions about what the work of a Native American artist should look like, Gibson is prompting a shift in how Native American art is perceived and historicized.

Presented during the 2020 general election, the exhibition embodies the contradiction of emotions that pervade our lives, yesterday as much as today, as we head toward an uncertain future. The work posits hope as much as it evinces a sense of mourning. Gibson asks viewers to imagine a destiny beyond our comprehension, on a pathway paved with both tremendous love and immense sorrow.

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