Nari Ward knows his rights, and he’s not afraid to evoke them. In his new show at Lehmann Maupin’s Christie Street venue, “Liberty and Orders,” the Jamaica-born artist reflects on his recent naturalization as a U.S. citizen. He sets the tone with Homeland Sweet Homeland, an assemblage including a megaphone, feathers, chains, and silver spoons, on which he has stitched a first-person version of the Miranda Rights: “I do not wish to answer any questions without speaking to an attorney,” the work declares.
The theme continues with a “We the People” inscribed on a wall with multicolored shoelaces, an eight-foot high scale (of justice?) made of old clothes and blankets, and T.P. Reign Bow, a tactical platform police tower wrapped in bright-blue tarp, embellished with brass grommets and bedecked with pants-zippers and hair. (It emits red surveillance lasers.) Surveying it all is a fox with a bushy black Afro tail, standing at attention. The taxidermied creature, at once witness and trickster, was intended as a stand-in for intellectual and activist Cornel West, Ward says. But he was glad when it turned out to be Redd Foxx too.
"T.P. Reign Bow (Detail),” 2012, wood, blue tarp, brass grommets, zippers, human hair, taxidermy fox. Courtesy Lehmann Maupin.