Nina Chanel Abney image

Nina Chanel Abney

IMAGINARY FRIEND (2020) | Augmented Reality

In collaboration with Acute Art, New York based artist, Nina Chanel Abney, launched her first global AR work, Imaginary Friend in the summer 2020.

Imaginary Friend tells us of a story in which a character, reminiscent of a religious figure like a sage, tries to give a blessing to a friend, but he refuses it as he doesn’t believe anything good will happen to him. The character leaves us with the phrase ‘sometimes we believe nothing good can ever happen to us, so it don’t’. Abney was inspired by fairy godmothers from cartoons that come into play to offer guidance. This story can be interpreted in multiple ways given our circumstances in the current world and Abney hopes it raises questions.

Nina Chanel Abney says: “As a visual artist, augmented reality not only offers me the opportunity to attune myself to these new configurations of space and public life; it also makes possible for the first time an interactive register of communication in my public artwork. Inspired by the mythological characters and disincarnate guides whom people turn to in times of trouble, and in collaboration with artists who understand the value of humor in processing grief, trauma, and distress, I created “Imaginary Friend” to offer participants an always-ready companion to mitigate the uncertainty and precarity of today. This work brings to life childhood strategies of fantasy and play as a proxy for the loss of social comforts and physical contact we experience as adults. “Imaginary Friend” asks us to keep at the heart, the value of collective life and public interaction at a moment that threatens to push us further toward alienated being.”

About Nina Chanel Abney

Abney was born in Chicago and currently lives and works in New York. Her paintings combine abstraction with representation to capture the frenetic pace of contemporary life. She broaches subjects as diverse as race, celebrity, religion, politics, sex and art history. The effect is information overload, balanced with a kind of spontaneous order, where time and space are compressed and identity is interchangeable. Her distinctively bold style harnesses the flux and simultaneity that has come to define life in the 21st century.

Her work is included in collections around the world, including the Brooklyn Museum, The Rubell Family Collection, Bronx Museum, and the Burger Collection, Hong Kong. Her first solo museum show in 2017 travelled around the USA, from the Nasher Museum of Art, North Carolina to the Chicago Cultural Center and then to Los Angeles, where it was jointly presented by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the California African American Museum. The final venue for the exhibition was the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York.


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