Tangled Up

Kalup Linzy
February 15 - March 24, 2018

David Castillo Gallery is proud to present Kalup Linzy: Tangled Up, a solo exhibition of new video and works on canvas.


Tangled Up by Kalup Linzy is an exercise in narrative, where the artist as storyteller weaves fragments of personal and collective memory to inform upon a sweeping, yet localized, account of identity-formation, selfhood and self-fashioning in the current cultural climate. Approaching his subject matter both musically and visually, Tangled Up takes the form of an exhibition and visual album comprised of sixteen audio tracks with accompanying videos, all written, composed and performed by Linzy, with the exception of the spiritual “Down by the Riverside,” which the artist performs, calling upon the racial histories of the United States.


Linzy’s performances, and the visual language he draws upon in his still- and moving-image work, borrow from cultural artifacts that are rooted in the tropes of daytime soap operas, reality television, Hollywood drama and situational comedies. Tangled Up itself follows in a narrative structure that points towards the beginning, middle and end of an ambiguous set of events and circumstances; the turmoils, uncertainties and resolutions of topics—from politics to love to vindication—that suggest the ebb and flow of Linzy’s life and upbringing.


In “Do You Know,” the visual album’s opening number, the artist looks back on his own history, the entirety of which he likens to “one ongoing monologue—just words, words, words about actions, actions, actions…”. This overarching testimony about the uncertainty of contemporary living is book-ended in the album’s second-to-last song, “Let Us Be,” which opens with an eye toward self-reflection: “Looking back on my life/ Reflecting/ Taking it all in stride/ All the different energies/ Came criss-crossed in my life/ Will my dreams ever be satisfied?”


Linzy’s work draws upon itself; a 15-year practice and a pantheon of nearly thirty personas, many of which the artist performs in drag, that recur throughout a fictional network of interconnected relationships that inform an epic, narrative saga. In exploring the interwoven threads of his characters, Linzy is himself tangled up and embroiled in the politics of performativity; of identity, race, gender and sexuality; and the promise of the United States’ looming social instability. Tangled Up speaks to the overlapping activist platforms of today, which find their roots in the identity politics and AIDS activism of the 1980s. And Linzy ultimately exemplifies the multi-hyphenate means through which uncommon representations find their way into common acceptance, evidencing the strides made and the progress yet to happen.


During the opening event for Tangled Up, Linzy will perform in the gallery as Kaye, an assumed persona—a video artist and musician—from the artist’s collection of identities.


Kalup Linzy was born in Florida and lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Kalup Linzy’s recent solo exhibitions include Sundance Film Festival, Park City, UT; Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, CA; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; and LAX ART, Los Angeles, CA, among others. Recent group shows include The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; and MoMA P.S. 1, Long Island City, NY, among others. Linzy has had multiple performances and screenings including the Carpenter Center at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; The Kitchen, New York, NY; The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA, among many others. He has been honored with awards and grants including The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation grant, The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, The Creative Capital Foundation grant, The Art Matters grant, The Jerome Foundation grant, The Harpo Foundation grant, and The Headlands Alumni Award residency. Among Linzy’s works in permanent collections are The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; and The Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL. Recent press includes The New York Times, Artnet News, Artnewspaper, and The Guardian among numerous others.

Kalup Linzy