Outlooks: Brandon Ndife

May 21 – November 7, 2022

  • Brandon Ndife, preparatory sketch for&nbsp;<i>Shade Trees,&nbsp;</i>2021&nbsp;
  • <span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:115%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:10.0pt"><span style="line-height:115%"><span arial="" style="font-family:">Brandon Ndife, preparatory sketch for <i>Shade Trees,&nbsp;</i>2021</span></span></span></span></span></span><br />

For the ninth iteration of Outlooks, Storm King Art Center presents the work of New York–based artist Brandon Ndife (b. 1991). The Outlooks program offers an emerging to mid-career artist the chance to present a large-scale, temporary outdoor project in the landscape.

Working primarily with domestic items, including furniture he makes by hand, artist Brandon Ndife manipulates objects’ appearance by casting them in polyurethane foam and resin. In the shade of the canopy and encircling the trunk of a maple tree in Storm King’s outdoor Maple Rooms, Ndife’s sculpture, titled Shade Tree, is embedded with whole cast tables, chairs, headboards, and bedposts—household forms fused together in imposing accumulations and embalmed in a perpetual state of decay. Siting Shade Tree in the Maple Rooms allows for a play between interiority and exteriority, protection and exposure. For Ndife, the suggestion of decomposition equally implies rebirth, regeneration, and opportunities for new growth. Ndife has said that much of his work is “about the interior, about these spaces that we deem safe because they’re in our homes—they’re our cabinets, our dressers, our personal space. Working outside, I wanted to extend that conversation and think about exclusion—planned exclusion—and nature's course, which is a canopy above all of us, something that we affect but can’t control.”

With Shade Tree, Ndife interrogates the legacy of redlining, or the systematically sanctioned racial segregation of real estate, which recent studies have shown often left poorer communities and communities of color in urban areas with fewer green spaces and less tree cover. Rising temperatures and worsening impacts of climate change in formerly redlined areas contribute to the increased susceptibility of these communities to deadly heat waves. As viewers stand beneath the tree canopies, Ndife encourages consideration of shade as both a natural phenomenon and a scarce commodity, saying, “Shade Tree is grounded by the universal truth that no place is exempt from economic and residential difference.”

Brandon Ndife
b. 1991, Hammond, IN
Shade Tree
Polyurethane, resin, metal hardware
Courtesy of the artist and Bureau, New York

Outlooks: Brandon Ndife is made possible by generous lead support from the Speyer Family Foundation Inc. Support is also provided by the Helis Foundation.      

Images: Brandon Ndife, preparatory sketches for Shade Tree, 2021Courtesy of the artist and Bureau, New York.
Video by Graham Mason