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Jeffrey Gibson's Sainsbury Centre exhibition will be UK first

2024 is a big year for American artist Jeffrey Gibson. Not only will he represent the USA at the Venice Biennale, he will also open his very first solo exhibition in a UK museum at the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich.

Jeffrey Gibson: no simple word for time will open at the art gallery on the campus of the University of East Anglia in February 2024 and visitors are promised a new site-specific installation as part of the show.

Gibson's new installation — called I can choose — will incorporate 19th and 20th century objects from Indigenous cultures across North America. Alongside the beadwork, parfleche and dolls that are common motifs in his work, the wider exhibition will not only consider the artist´s relationship with these items, but also how they are displayed within public facing museums and galleries.

Portrait image of the artist wearing a baseball cap with a colouful geometric artwork as the backdrop
Jeffrey Gibson. Photo: Brian Barlow. Courtesy of Jeffrey Gibson Studio

It's a timely show for Gibson, as this first museum show opens just as a display of his work at London's Stephen Friedman Gallery — who represent him — closes. And it comes ahead of undoubtedly the biggest platform of Gibson's career so far: creating the American pavilion at the 2024 Venice Biennale.

Gibson will become the first Indigenous artist to represent the USA solo at the art-world version of the Olympics. A Colorado-born, New York-based artist, he is a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and of Cherokee descent and his work often challenges the absence of Native American practices in visual culture. His installation in Venice will be unveiled in April when the Biennale opens, but it's thought to be costing $5 million to produce.

In Norwich, no simple word for time will illuminate the rich practice of abstraction in Indigenous art, going against the common narrative within UK museums that abstraction only emerged in the 20th century.

The show is part of the Sainsbury Centre's What is Truth? season which will investigate how we can know what is true in the world around us. Gibson's show will be one of four interlinked exhibitions on the topic.

A woman stands and looks at a punch bag made of coloured beads with writing on them
Jeffrey Gibson, I am a Rainbow © Jeffrey Gibson. Courtesy the artist, Stephen Friedman Gallery, Sikkema Jenkins and Co and Roberts Projects. Photo: Max Yawney

In a recent interview with maxwell museums, the Sainsbury Centre's Director Jago Cooper said it "really is quite a season" with programming that covers everything from "how AI is stealing our soul" to how "iconic photographs are coming to define our understanding of history."

Further details on the Norwich exhibition are yet to be revealed, but with Gibson's work usually incorporating painting, performance, sculpture, textiles and video, and nearly always utilising vibrant colour and pattern, we should certainly expect a bright and bold show.

Jeffrey Gibson: no simple word for time opens at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich on 24 February and runs until 4 August 2024

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