My father has full sleeve tribal tattoos

Exhibited in group show A Guiding Dog for a Blind Dog at Futura Gallery2018, Prague, Czech republic

Curated by Lukas Hofmann

Metal pipes, cloth, organic material, plastic, swarovski diamonds. 

Extra work: we’re cleaning out the filing cabinets and hard drives of the heron-family blackmarket text service. In return they give us cartons of Mexican menthol cigarettes. Behind a radiator there’s a wilted blinder with a cracked spine, just pages and pages of laminated fashion magazine articles, and one catches my eye – 

“Let a hundred sexes bloom! `Gender abolitionism´ is a shorthand for the ambition to construct a society where traits currently assembled under the rubric of gender no longer furnish a grid for the asymmetric operation of power.” 

-Laboria Cuboniks, “Xenofeminism: A Politics for Alienation” 

The work of Nicole Walker has, for the past years, participated in the larger movement of art and fashion braiding together –  at a certain point, the two become indistinguishable, a hybrid form. The “third” form sacrifices neither the stylists utility as one who can acutely dress a human body (and everything else entailed in the practice – engaging in a network of designers and models, compiling moods and textures), nor the risk that is definitive to an artwork, its ability to convince us that a graceful act of destruction transpired in the process of its creation. Of course, like and binary, even here the distinction starts blurring under some pressure. Perhaps it is the mobilisation of fashion into a distinctly non-commercial context, and conversely, the opening of a space within the traditional exhibition format for the fungible and trend-driven art of fashion, the defines their partnership. Walker slides between the two deftly, from her platform AMAZE, to the unnerving and delicate details of her styling portfolio – I keep thinking of these straps of high-heels open behind the ankle, like a flimsy bear trap, jaws open. 

Titled My father has full sleeve tribal tattoos, the work encompasses a moodpboard and a structure of metal pipes, which is “dressed” in garments and objects by the designers, Alva Ilta Johansson, Dana Mašková, Carl Gustav von Platen and Iva Prošková, as well as other accoutrements – a small knife, or the business guide Head, Heart and Guts: How the worlds best companies develop complete leaders; the names of the three authors crossed out. Call it a sculptural act of styling, or a styled sculpture; whatever it is, Walker has stated that the piece is driven by her explorations of an array of concepts related to femme-power: matriarchy, cavewomen and cults of Venus, military of armed women. Rather than illustrating any kind of reductive binary of the “soft” power of feminin textile meeting the “hard” and metallic masculine structure, she assembles a visual and tactile representation of feminin strength, which is a quality superseding gender. Walker´s choice to style a non-human frame, an uncoded body, also throws a glitch, a tic into the dusty contraption of the fashion system, still divided by season of womenswear and menswear. 

So just like the collective author Laboria Cuboniks writes in the Xenofeminist manifesto, let a hundred formats bloom between the disciplines of art and fashion! The work of Walker and her contemporaries continues. The pages tear here, but long live Laboria Cuboniks. The rest of the article is probably decomposing in a gulch somewhere, thousands of miles away, blowing through some uncanny valley filled with green acrylic nails in perfect condition. 

Text by Nat Marcus