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© Radcliffe Bailey. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, NY. Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion.


Artist: Radcliffe Bailey (Born in Bridgeton, New Jersey, 1968)
Culture: American
Date: 2012
Medium: Mixed media
120 x 114 x 6 inches (304.8 x 289.6 x 15.2 cm)
Classification: Mixed Media
Credit Line: Museum purchase made possible by the Nasher Museum Board of Advisors in honor of Chairman Blake Byrne (A.B.’57), with funds provided by Nancy A. Nasher (J.D.’79, P’18, P’22) and David J. Haemisegger (P’18, P’22), Trent Carmichael (A.B.’88, P’17, P’19), Marjorie (P’16, P’19, P’19) and Michael Levine (B.S.’84, P’16, P’19, P’19), Christen (P’15) and Derek Wilson (A.B.’86, M.B.A.’90, P’15), Cynthia and Richard Brodhead, Paula Cooper, Patricia (A.B.’77, P’06) and Thruston Morton (P’06), Jack (A.B.’80, P’06, P’15) and Margaret Neely (P’06, P’15), Andrew and Barbra Rothschild, Brenda and Howard Johnson, Paula (A.B.’80) and James Crown, Richard Powell and C.T. Woods-Powell, Kimerly Rorschach (P’11, P’13, founding Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Director) and John Hart, Jason Rubell (A.B.’91, P’23) and Michelle Simkins-Rubell (P’23), Monica and Richard Segal, Frank Konhaus and Ellen Cassilly, Peter Lange and Lori Leachman, Trevor Schoonmaker and Teka Selman, Sarah Schroth, Michael and Leslie Marsicano, Jock Reynolds and Suzanne Hellmuth, Ann and Rhodes Craver, Katharine and Bryan Reid, and Kristine Stiles.
Label Text:Radcliffe Bailey creates sculptures, paintings, installations, and assemblages that investigate the culture of the African Diaspora, balancing world history with familial memory. Boats and ships are common motifs in his work, referencing ocean crossings and the Middle Passage in the Atlantic slave trade. In Levitate, the reference is less historically precise and more spiritually evocative.

The long vessel seen here is based on a fishing boat the artist first encountered when visiting Senegal. The object appears to float in front of the tarp, similar to the way a magician makes an assistant levitate. The black glitter covering the boat recurs in Bailey’s works and suggests the shimmering quality of Haitian Voodoo flags, which are covered in reflective sequins. The background tarp is marked with symbols derived from visual languages as diverse as Haitian veve, Yoruba and Kongo cosmology, and African American Carolina metalwork. These markings form a mystical navigational language of the artist’s creation, and the boat becomes a transcendent vessel carrying viewers to another realm.

Object number: 2012.4.1