The Philadelphia Inquirer: ‘Swarm’ highlights 10 years of Terence Nance’s community-driven art making

‘Swarm’ highlights 10 years of Terence Nance’s community-driven art making

By Kiersten Adams for The Philadelphia Inquirer 

March 17, 2023


To move somewhere in large numbers, a dense group of insects, or, a coalition of people creating in community.

In “Swarm,” Terence Nances’ first solo exhibit, now open at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), swarm signifies ancestral celebration, artistic expression, and community.

“I thought of it (the name, “Swarm”) because he works in community and works often in collaboration with so many other people…thinks of themselves as a member of many collectives, “Swarm” curator and Blackstar Projects’ chief executive & artistic officer Maori Karmael Holmes said to The Inquirer. “So I thought it would make sense to acknowledge that in the title, and he was right away down with that idea.”

Running through July 9 at ICA, the immersive 5-part exhibit offers audiences the chance to meander the gallery space where 10 years of Terence Nance’s cinematic surrealism is exhibited. Known for works like HBO Max’s Random Acts of Flyness, 2014′s Swimming in Your Skin Again, and 2012′s An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, Nance abandons linear visual convention and substitutes it for fantastic imagery that magnifies the Black experience.

Stepping inside “Swarm,” visitors are thrust into the familiarity of a living room scene where Nances’ latest, Swarm Part Zero, plays on dual screens that sit in front of a coffee table and a comfortably broken-in couch. A shrine dedicated to a family member sits in waiting along with an ancestral offering table.

Sequestered in an open circular room, Univitellin, the story of love and tragedy (and both an homage to and a take down of French New Wave romance conventions) unfolds while a spinning platform tinkers with your POV. Each exhibit is uniquely designed as if to create its own swarm of viewers who sit or stand in close proximity to experience the art.

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