Institute of Contemporary Art, Università della Pennsylvania (ICA) - Filadelfia (USA)

The Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania (ICA) and BlackStar Projects present Terence Nance: Swarm, the first solo museum exhibition dedicated to the genre-defying and innovative practice of Terence Nance. Curated by Maori Karmael Holmes, Swarm highlights Nance’s experimentation in film, television, sound, and performance through the presentation of six large-scale, multi-channel videos and installations that the artist has reimagined specifically for the exhibition.

As a filmmaker, writer, actor, and musician, Nance brings an interdisciplinary approach to his practice, offering unexpected and alternative paths for creating work that layers video, sound, printed matter, and live performance in contemporary environments. He first gained national recognition for his semi-animated feature film, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012. He also attended the first edition of the BlackStar Film Festival in 2012, which Holmes, the exhibition’s curator and BlackStar’s chief executive and artistic officer, founded that year. He debuted another seminal work, Random Acts of Flyness, at the BlackStar Film Festival in 2018. The Peabody Award-winning HBO series examines contemporary Black life in America, and it returned for a second season on HBO this past December.

Nance draws much of his influence from the communities in which he creates work, including his birth city, Dallas, his current home, Baltimore, and Brooklyn. His career emerged in the wake of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s; its enduring creative lineage and kinship reveals itself in the work of Nance, which imagines a future that incorporates Black needs, desires, and spirit. The exhibition’s title, Swarm, refers to a Brooklyn-based group of artists with whom he built a community in the early to mid-2000s. Holmes further describes this community in the exhibition catalog, writing: “Terence thrives in community, and I felt it was important to place that ethos at the forefront of this show. I’d read about and heard him speak about “The Swarm” in the early to mid-aughts often; in a 2019 interview with Simran Hans, Terence defines this as “Black or Black-adjacent people who find themselves in fractal, interlocking social networks in different cities.”

The exhibition opens with the newly commissioned and never-before-seen Can’t Tell These Kids Nothing, a two-channel installation featuring a video of poet Fred Moten and Nance’s mother Vickie Washington.The next room opens to Univitellin, a multi-channel projection presented at ICA within a recreated bedroom. A star-crossed romantic tragedy—with a touch of the uncanny—the short film from 2016 unfolds on the streets of Marseille, France.

In From the Void, visitors experience excerpts of past and recent work by Nance on a linear television station broadcast by Ummah Chroma, MVMT, and Telfar. An oval projection screen shows various worksfrom Nance’s catalogincluding video from Random Acts of Flyness, TELFAR.TV, music videos, and documentary shorts, among other works. The exhibition in the main gallery concludes with Swimming in Your Skin Again, a short film from 2015 celebrating the coming of age through dance- and movement-based works, scored by the artist’s brother, the musician Norvis Junior. In the ICA’s Tuttleman Auditorium, visitors have the opportunity to hear Nance’s debut LP, V O R T E X, in a special listening room created for the experience of this new album.

Terence Nance: Swarm is curated by Maori Karmael Holmes and co-organized and presented by BlackStar Projects and the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania. Major support for Terence Nance: Swarm has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. This project is also generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support has been provided by Danielle Anderman, Dorothy and Martin Bandier, Stacey and Benjamin Frost, Christina Weiss Lurie, Lori and John Reinsberg, and Stephanie and David Simon.

Related public programming:

Terence Nance Spotlight: An evening of six short films.
March 15, 2023, 7:30pm
General admission: 10 USD
Penn Live Arts, 3680 Walnut Street

Terence Nance: An Oversimplification of Her Beauty
March 16, 2023, 7:30PM

General admission: 10 USD
Penn Live Arts, 3680 Walnut Street

In Conversation: Terence Nance & Maori Karmael Holmes
April 28, 2023, 6–8pm

Free. Registration required.
ICA, 118 S. 36th Street