Museum in Motion - Nicola L


M HKA, Antwerp

16 September 2022 - 08 January 2023

Nicola L.

From the 1960s onwards, Nicola L. (1932−2018, born Nicola Leuthe) blended fine arts, performance and design with an enduring sense of humour and a constant desire to create collective experiences. She explored the body relentlessly throughout her career, from anthropomorphic furniture in the spirit of pop art to installations inviting bodies and the artwork to form a new, organic and communal entity. For her series of what she called ‘pénétrables’, she used the structural elements of traditional painting, a stretched canvas, but stitched pockets onto them for heads, arms and legs, creating a work that could be worn as a garment or brought to life with the human body. When not inhabited, these paintings became hanging objects with a ghostly presence, hinting at a potential playful activation.

In 1976, Nicola L. was invited for a solo exhibition at M HKA’s predecessor organisation, the ICC (International Cultural Centre), in Antwerp. Banners, masks, drawings and installations were on display, as well as a large coat for eleven people which she took into the streets. The action with the coat was repeated in various cities under the title Same Skin for Everybody and was first performed at the Isle of Wight Music Festival in 1970. Nicola L. always had a broad cultural interest, ranging from functional art (as she called it), to film and music. When she moved to New York in 1979 and settled in the Chelsea Hotel, she devoted herself to film, making works that included a short documentary about the punk rock band Bad Brains at the legendary club CBGB.

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