Nobody, No Time!

lovell_kin-vi-nobody

Whitfield Lovell, Kin VI (Nobody), 2008. Conté on paper and wooden chain, 30 in x 22 1/2 x 7/8 in. Collection of Julia J. Norrell © Whitfield Lovell and DC Moore Gallery, New York

With the provocative subtitle for this Kin and the symbolism of the chain cradling the female face, Whitfield Lovell explores the sense of alienation of the ordinary individual while also challenging assumptions about what it means to be accepted in society. Lovell chose to depict this woman because she immediately felt like someone he knew, reminding him of an older relative. “Nobody” is also the title of a 1905 song written by Bert Williams and Alex Rogers that was later performed by Nina Simone, one of the artist’s favorite singers.

Nobody
When life seems full of clouds an’ rain
and I am filled with naught but pain,
who soothes my thumpin’ bumpin’ brain?
Nobody
When winter comes with snow an’ sleet,
and me with hunger and cold feet,
who says “Ah, here’s two bits, go an’ eat!”
Nobody
I ain’t never done nothin’ to nobody,
I ain’t never got nothin’ from nobody, no time!
And until I get somethin’ from somebody, sometime,
I don’t intend to do nothin’ for nobody, no time!
When I try hard an’ scheme an’ plan,
to look as good as I can,
who says “Ah, look at that handsome man!”
Nobody
When all day long things go amiss,
and I go home to find some bliss,
who hands to me a glowin’ kiss?
Nobody
I ain’t never done nothin’ to nobody,
I ain’t never got nothin’ from nobody, no time!
And until I get somethin’ from somebody, sometime,
I don’t intend to do nothin’ for nobody, no time!
Nobody, no time!”
–lyrics by Bert Williams and Alex Rogers, 1905

Whitfield Lovell: The Kin Series and Related Works is on view through Jan. 8, 2017.

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