Nevven is proud to present Twinkle Toes a solo show by American artist Devin Troy Strother. For his first exhibition in Sweden, the Los Angeles based artist is transforming the gallery into a library and communication centre, where — alongside books and printed material — a new video, paintings and a performance are presented.
Twinkle Toes is an English phrase for someone who is a good dancer. Evoking the idea of graciously moving from a technique to another, yet also including the possibility of comically stumbling while attempting — Strother uses dance as a metaphor of his practice as an ever—expanding and evolving body of work. The formats of his art have recently been shifting from installation, painting and sculpture towards print, video and performance, but the themes at the core of his research remain consistent. Devin Troy Strother is continuing with Twinkle Toes his investigation into art—history, humour and language, focusing on the role of performers and entertainers which American culture has historically assigned to African—Americans. From the days of slavery, with cakewalks and minstrels, to the blues (from which rock and roll originates) and modern—day professional athletes, actors and musicians — Strother identifies in the history of black American culture the foundations of what is generally known as ”American Culture” and places this concept at the centre of his whole artistic research.
The gallery space is transformed by an installation focused on Coloured Publishing. Founded five years ago by Devin Troy Strother and designer Yuri Ogita, the publishing company has been producing a vast array of informative material, books and objects as a utilitarian and performative project dealing in an unconventional way with relevant thematics in art and society. The whole Coloured poster and book archive is presented, turning the gallery into a dedicated space for the viewers to expand their knowledge on topics of race, performance, language and image.
At the core of Twinkle Toes is a new video work. The moving picture is a recent endeavour in Devin Troy Strother’s practice and it seems to be a logical development of his research into the role of black Americans as entertainers. Video offers him also a chance to humorously and dramatically bring forward his ongoing practice of using the very stereotypes about African—Americans to appropriate the fetishisation, co—option and commodification of black people’s representation, especially in culture. The video is taken from an ongoing series called The Black Nauman and is directed and edited by the artist in collaboration with Thomas McMahan. Reminiscent of David Hammons and Bruce Nauman — who is quoted in the series’ title — the video is starring Strother himself, actively confronting the public in the role of the performer.
Lastly, the performance part of Twinkle Toes aims to combine the whole into an ephemeral experience. Re—enacting one of the videos from The Black Nauman, Strother dances durning the opening reception, in his underwear and following a different music tempo than the one the audience can hear. The effect is a conflicting and alternate experience in which the artist physically takes the role of the black American entertainer at the core of his artistic research. With Twinkle Toes, Devin Troy Strother embarks in a new path which integrates and advances his classic art practices, activating with renewed humour and intelligence his ongoing thematics and offering a thought—provoking perspective on American culture.