Nari Ward knows his rights, and he’s not afraid to evoke them. In his new show at Lehmann Maupin’s Christie Street venue, “Liberty and Orders,” the Jamaica-born artist reflects on his recent naturalization as a U.S. citizen. He sets the tone with Homeland Sweet Homeland, an assemblage including a megaphone, feathers, chains, and silver spoons, on which he has stitched a first-person version of the Miranda Rights: “I do not wish to answer any questions without speaking to an attorney,” the work declares.
The theme continues with a “We the People” inscribed on a wall with multicolored shoelaces, an eight-foot high scale (of justice?) made of old clothes and blankets, and T.P. Reign Bow, a tactical platform police tower wrapped in bright-blue tarp, embellished with brass grommets and bedecked with pants-zippers and hair. (It emits red surveillance lasers.) Surveying it all is a fox with a bushy black Afro tail, standing at attention. The taxidermied creature, at once witness and trickster, was intended as a stand-in for intellectual and activist Cornel West, Ward says. But he was glad when it turned out to be comedian Redd Foxx too!