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The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) unveils a monumental, site-specific commission by multidisciplinary artist Igshaan Adams.

Installation view of Samesyn, by Igshaan Adams during the 35th Bienal de São Paulo – choreographies of the impossible © Levi Fanan / Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

Adams’s woven tapestries point to the interconnectedness of the artist’s spirituality, familial histories, and local community narratives as rooted in his South African heritage. The ambitious new work, entitled Lynloop [Toeing the Line], will be on view from February 13, 2024, to February 15, 2025, in a presentation organised by Ruth Erickson, Barbara Lee Chief Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs. 

Drawing on the notion of “desire lines” – paths created by pedestrians over time that fall outside of sanctioned walkways – Adams visualises the everyday movements of people through a range of tactile materials to contest fixed boundaries. At the ICA, Adams will transform the first-floor lobby’s Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall into a multi-part, experimental weaving and sculptural installation conceived in response to the museum’s architecture and the artist’s recollections of post-apartheid South Africa. 

“Igshaan Adams brings a distinct, new voice to the ICA, combining monumentality, tactility and cosmology with a unique combination of materials and techniques, to represent histories of an apartheid and post-apartheid era in South Africa,” said Jill Medvedow, the ICA’s Ellen Matilda Poss Director. “Visitors will encounter this stunning new work as they enter the museum’s first floor lobby, a free and open space for the public.” 

“Adams’s installation at the ICA considers the impact of childhood experiences and memories on the trajectory of one’s life,” said Erickson. “He takes maps of areas where enforced boundaries, such as those formerly used to separate communities along racial castes during the apartheid era, and reframes them with his own observations and fantasies. In this work, pathways between sports fields adjacent to where the artist grew up are softened with hues of pink, mohair, and delicate gold chain.” 

Adams uses aerial images from Google Earth as the basis for his intricate, monumental weavings. In his commission at the ICA, Lynloop, he reproduces the footpaths between a sports field and a walled-off recreational space in Heideveld, a town in Cape Town, South Africa, adjacent to Bonteheuwel, the artist’s hometown. Lynloop is an Afrikaans term formerly used by South African gangs to denote control, or to punish those who stepped out of line. Adams reimagines a “hyper-masculine” territory of his childhood and associated memories to consider both the imprint of early experiences and the potential of other futures. In dialogue with the extensive weavings are enormous suspended metallic, cloud-like sculptures that suggest concentrated areas of movement and human interaction. The artist describes his new work as “a yearning for the beauty and fantasy of what could have been if my environment had allowed for it – forcing a wish onto a memory.”  

The ICA’s Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall is dedicated to site-specific, commissioned works by leading contemporary artists. Located within the museum’s glass-enclosed lobby, the Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall is the visitor’s first encounter with art upon entering the building and has featured commissions by Barbara Kruger, Wangechi Mutu, Matthew Ritchie, Gillian Wearing, and Haegue Yang. 

The installation will be on view from the 13th of February, 2024, until the 15th of February, 2025. For more information, please visit Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston.

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