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Are?! You?! Ready?! Nikita Gale’s END OF SUBJECT


Clarion Vol. 2: Nikita Gale: END OF SUBJECT

Andrea Fraser

Are?! You?! Ready?! Nikita Gale’s END OF SUBJECT

P9-19 297 Words 1 Note 2mins


“What lies between the bodies and the sounds and the stage and the lights—what are we to each other in the act of witnessing? What have we agreed upon through the mere act of showing up?”

 —Nikita Gale

It’s a cold Sunday afternoon in February 2022. I arrive at 52 Walker to facilitate a convening in Nikita Gale’s exhibition END OF SUBJECT 1. The gallery, usually closed to the public on Sundays, has been opened for our gathering. The exhibition has been turned on and is running through its two-and-a-half-hour program of light and sound. As we greet one another individually, in pairs, and in small groups, music starts to play over the speakers.

Audio: polyphonic synthesizer music that sounds like an organ, with coughing at random moments.

We are mostly old friends with relationships linked through the artist. While only a few of us are strangers to one another, the masks we wear make it challenging to recognize each other. COVID-19 vaccine cards are checked by gallery staff. As we mill around, the amplified sound of someone walking around a room comes over the speakers, followed by a voice reading a list of symptoms. I hear the voice as the voice of a white male from the southern United States.

Fever; chills; cough; shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; fatigue; muscle or body aches; headache; new loss of taste or smell; sore throat; congestion or runny nose; nausea or vomiting; diarrhea; trouble breathing; persistent pain or pressure in the chest; new confusion; inability to wake or stay awake; pale gray- or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone.

Audio: baby laughing, dog barking, loud electronic glitch, a person running and breathing heavily; synth organ music reenters and fades out.

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