Fore artist spotlight

Nate Young
b. 1981, Phoenixville, PA
Lives and works in St. Paul, MN


Representations of constellations, magic and rhetoric are central to Nate Young’s conceptual practice. In his 2012 series “Constellations,” cosmological imagery appears alongside lyrics from popular songs. Placing these unrelated elements into conversation highlights how language and other systems of communication can affect interpersonal relationships.

This idea continues in his “Magic, Illusion and Rhetorical Tactics” series (2010), where Young inhabits and performs two nontraditional
roles for an artist: one of a magician and the other of a preacher. In Post Black Magic (2010), and a series of subsequent videos and objects, Young employs sleight of hand and disappearance—two deceptive gestures used to lure audiences into an altered state of consciousness, highlighting the tension between what is seen and what is ignored when disbelief is suspended. Two white gloves are the only traces of Young’s presence, as he has disappeared into the saturated blackness of the video frame.

The installation in Fore, Closing No. 1 (2012), uses a church pew and a recording of a man delivering a feverishly intense speech about painting, with a tone and inflection similar to that of a preacher. For some, religion can be interpreted as a relationship to unseen forces, which constitutes a belief system, much like secular magic. The enterprise of making art also involves considerable illusion, leaps of faith and dogma. Young’s diverse practice gives form to the
many ways in which we interpret the unexplained phenomena punctuating daily life.

—Jamillah James, 2012 Curatorial Fellow, The Studio Museum in Harlem

More on Nate Young

images: Journey Through the Outer Darkness, 2012, digital video; Closing No. 1, 2012, church pew and audio recording; Primum in Perpetuum (ed. 1 of 11), 2012, wood and graphite

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    I may head to the museum Sunday. It’s been a few months.
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