In Conversation: Christina Quarles with Ismail Muhammad and Simon Wu

  • 28 November 2022

On the occasion of ‘Christina Quarles. In 24 Days tha Sun’ll Set at 7pm,’ the artist’s first major solo exhibition with Hauser & Wirth, we joined the artist for a conversation between The New York Times story editor, Ismail Muhammad and writer and curator Simon Wu.

The conversation touched on Quarles’ unique practice and will use the new paintings on view as a jumping off point for further discussion about her instinctual approach to figuration and richly layered visual vocabulary.

Following the talk, Brooklyn based instrumentalist, L’Rain, gave a responsive performance within the exhibition space, riffing off the works on view as musical inspiration.

About Christina Quarles
Christina Quarles (b. 1985) is a Los Angeles-based artist, whose practice works to dismantle and question assumptions and ingrained beliefs surrounding identity and the human figure. Born in Chicago and raised by her mother in Los Angeles, Quarles took art classes from an early age. She developed a solid foundation for a lifelong drawing practice through after-school programs and figure drawing classes at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.

About Ismail Muhammad
Ismail Muhammad is an editor at the New York Times Magazine. Before that, he was the reviews editor at The Believer. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, the New York Times Book Review, Slate, Dissent, Bookforum, and other publications.

About Simon Wu
Simon Wu is a New York-based writer and graphic designer involved in collaborative art production and research. He currently serves as a Curator and Program Coordinator for the Racial Imaginary Institute. He is a contributor to Artforum, Bookforum, BOMB, frieze, and the Drift, and in 2021 was awarded an Andy Warhol Foundation Art Writers Grant. He is an alum of the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program and has curated programs and exhibitions at MoMA, David Zwirner, The Kitchen, and other places.

About L’Rain
Brooklyn-born and based experimentalist and multi-instrumentalist Taja Cheek, aka L’Rain, is mapping the enormity of how to change. Her forthcoming second album ‘Fatigue’ demands introspection from ready ears with an array of keyboards, synths, and hauntingly delicate vocals that create a genre entirely her own. Cheek has dipped her toes in every corner of the arts, through her work at some of the most prestigious art institutions in NYC and collaborations with the likes of Naama Tsabar, Kevin Beasley, Justin Allen, among others.

‘Fatigue’ puts out slippery sonics that Cheek describes as ‘approaching songness,’ which highlights her commitment to the experimental value of process as her practice. Heavily blending genres including but not limited to gospel, jazz, and neo-soul, ‘Fatigue’ fractures and mends our expectations of what musicians, especially Black women musicians, are categorized to do versus what they need to do (and actually do). L’Rain’s presentation of poetic intervention in ‘Fatigue’ brilliantly subverts our expectations of what lyrics do, where they present, the summarization of ideas, where and how marginalized people can be read or misread.

‘Black people, who, in the face of violence and discrimination, are often given little time to process.’ The poetics of ‘Fatigue’ gains even more radical momentum when we make clear how much of Black process and processing are forcibly rendered into abbreviation. ‘Fatigue’ encourages us to listen, laugh, mourn, hum, linger, realize, know, accept and release who we are, who and what we can be when we allow movements of change to be a necessary component of, not an antithesis to, rest.

Christina Quarles. In 24 Days tha Sun’ll Set at 7pm,’ is on view at Hauser & Wirth New York, 22nd Street, through 29 October 2022.