From the “Ceremony for Freeway Fets” series (1978) by Senga Nengudi. Performance in collaboration with David Hammons, Maren Hassinger, and Studio Z members. Photos by Roderick ‘Quaku’ Young.

Senga Nengudi, Studio Performance with R.S.V.P.,(1976)

In Nengudi’s Studio Performance with R.S.V.P., the art object and exhibition space become extensions of the performers very flesh. Dressed all in black so that the boundary of her body and the rest of the piece are indistinct, Nengudi pulls ritualistically at the attenuated leg of a pair of pantyhose braced with weights and attached to the gallery wall.  While the “sculpture” is itself a kind of flesh, Nengudi merges with it’s objecthood, as if enacting Merleau-Ponty’s observations about the reciprocal relation of the body to the world:

“The openness through flesh: the two leaves of my body and the leaves of the visible world… It is between these intercalated leaves that there is visibility… all this means: the world, the flesh not as fact or sum of facts, but as a locus of an inscription of truth,,,”