Jimmy Robert: Akimbo at Nottingham Contemporary, UK

Jimmy Robert
Akimbo
Nottingham Contemporary
Weekday Cross, Nottingham, NG1 2GB
26 September, 2020 — 3 January, 2021

This major survey of the Guadeloupe-born French artist Jimmy Robert (b.1975) brings together sculpture, installation, film, works on paper and performance in the largest-ever presentation of Robert’s work in the UK.

The exhibition explores emergent themes in Robert’s work, including performance and gesture, the politics of spectatorship, appropriation, and the personal and political body, along with their racialised and gendered readings. By drawing together work from 2002 to the present day, the exhibition will bring into focus the intertextuality that has shaped Robert’s work through the myriad quotations and allusions that he deploys. From American choreographer Yvonne Rainer to the Suriname-born Dutch conceptualist Stanley Brouwn, these references act as points of critical departure, which are complicated through shifts in context to create a layered set of reflections, mirrored across time, place and identities.

The notion of reflections and mirrors can also be read through Robert’s engagement with questions of the gaze and desire, of visibility and invisibility. At times, Robert borrows from art-historical instances where black bodies have been fetishized but, more often, his own body provides a point of focus. Many of the films and performances featured in the exhibition, including Joie Noire (2019) as well as earlier Super-8 films such as Brown Leatherette (2002), implicate the body as a vehicle of language, positing it as a site of interference and resistance. Conceptualism meets sensuality in such works, where slippages between image and language, object and image, and materiality and representation are constantly being enacted.

The exhibition will tour to CRAC Occitanie in Sète, France in spring 2021 and to Museion in Bolzano, Italy in summer 2021.