An integral quality of organic history is one of continuity, an ability to reproduce evolving systems of being. The present is conceived as an unfolding product of the past, simultaneously experienced and archived in forms as event and memory. An observation of the now is thus foregrounded against a landscape of afterlives and replication. This rootedness of the present in ideas of descendancy forms a core aspect of Neec Nonso’s debut solo exhibition Transcendental Signified. The body is considered across time and worlds, drawing connections between the spectral and corporeal. Writer Zoë Hopkins describes living as ‘an experience of encountering, remembering, and listening to the dead’. In this exhibition, Nonso blurs the lines between the living and the dead, presenting bodies in a non-linear performance of continuity.
Building on his earlier series ‘What Was Dead Was Never Dead’ Nonso presents work spanning still images, augmented reality, installation, sound and performance. Set against rural, vegetative scenes, images of multiple often translucent bodies — mostly of the artist — are arranged uniformly around a central subject, as if posed for a camera. This visual duplication positions the artist’s body as a site for unraveling notions of memory, lineage and reincarnation, as well as rituals of life, death and the afterworld. Combining his body with portraits of individuals met during his research travels, Nonso assumes an ancestral and otherworldly state, initiating a dialogue with family histories as well as sites of memory and remembrance. Vestiges of the past layered onto the fabric of the present
In Transcendental Signified, the built space becomes a witness to the passing of time, its continued existence serving to contain the stories of impermanent bodies. A space that holds presence and memory. These buildings and landscapes also serve as scenes for duality, one situated between planes of existence. From the concrete to the ethereal. Mining personal experiences and research across places and perspectives, Nonso narrates intimate family stories and histories, imagining the present body as an embodiment of all that has come before. An ode to departure and continuance.