“I’m daring people to go in and just walk through,” Burundi-born, Johannesburg-based artist Serge Alain Nitegeka said to ARTINFO when describing his elaborate installation at Marianne Boesky Gallery’s Armory Show booth. For his first trip to New York and the first-ever showing of his work in the U.S., Nitegeka has erected a complex web of interconnected beams and shipping crates across the front of the Boesky booth that visitors must navigate through to access the paintings hanging at the back. An eye-catching giant, Nitegeka’s in situ piece is one of the few presentations at the fair to deviate from a more staid multi-artist hanging.
“I found him last June in South Africa and my visit with him was one of these amazing hair-raising experiences,” said gallery founder Marianne Boesky. “The combination of his interest in painting history and modernism with his experience as a refugee and migration and the way he intersects those ideas in his work without it being didactic is perfect art for me. Since we didn’t have an opening in our calendar at the gallery for a year and a half, we decided to propose this to him.”
Boesky asked Nitegeka to do an installation in the booth, but gave him control over the design and layout. “The gallery asked me how do I want the booth and I said, ‘the paintings in the back,’” Nitegeka explained. “I usually build such obstacles to entrances of galleries or other places that I’m showing work. The viewer has to make a choice whether they want to get through and see the work on the other side. My focus is on the body. I want my sculpture to make the body feel like it’s being made to move in a particular way.”
Nitegeka’s installation, which Boesky explains “would need to be completely reinvented for another space,” is on sale for $30,000 and his paintings range from $10,000 to $25,000.
— Ashton Cooper (@ashton_cooper)
(Photos: Ashton Cooper)