Ja'Tovia Gary. flesh that needs to be loved

15 Feb 2020 – 21 Mar 2020

Regular hours

10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00

Travel Information

  • C or E to 23rd Street / 8th Avenue | F or V to 23rd Street / 6th Avenue

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Opening February 15, 2020, “flesh that needs to be loved” marks Ja’Tovia Gary’s inaugural exhibition at Paula Cooper Gallery.


The presentation includes the East Coast premiere of THE GIVERNY SUITE, 2019—an immersive, three-channel extension of her acclaimed forty-minute film, The Giverny Document (Single Channel), 2019—as well as the artist’s first-ever multimedia sculptural installation. Using a broad range of techniques such as direct animation, documentary, experimental film, video art, and cinema verité, Gary charts the ways structures of power shape our perceptions around representation, race, gender, sexuality, and violence. Her work seeks to liberate the distorted histories through which Black life is often viewed, while fleshing out a nuanced and multivalent Black interiority.

Filmed on location in Harlem, New York, and in Claude Monet’s historic gardens and orchards in Giverny, France, THE GIVERNY SUITE is a multi-textured meditation on the safety and bodily autonomy of Black women. Undergirded by Black feminist theory concerning the body and the flesh, Gary bears witness to lives, traumas, and fleeting moments of beauty that have been obscured by the afterlife of slavery.1 “Do you feel safe?,” she asks a range of multigenerational and transnational Black women at the intersection of Malcolm X Boulevard and W 116th Street. The installation’s central channel forms the work’s narrative thread while its two flanking feeds broaden its critical and affective resonances. Woven as a cinematic poem, Gary employs repetition and montage editing to layer sequences of original footage with archival video and film—including Nina Simone at the Montreux Festival in 1976; Diamond Reynolds following the murder of Philando Castile in 2016; Josephine Baker in the 1934 motion picture, ZouZou; Fred Hampton speaking on political education, c. 1968-69; and an early twentieth-century Haitian travel log. Through audacious formal experimentation, Gary explores the creative virtuosity of Black femme performance while interrogating the histories of Black women’s lives and bodies as spaces of forced labor and commodified production.

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Exhibiting artists

Ja'Tovia Gary


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