52 Walker x Du-Good Press | David Zwirner

This online presentation of prints by Kandis Williams and Nikita Gale celebrates the collaboration between 52 Walker and Du-Good Press, a fine art screenprinting studio founded in 2017 by Leslie Diuguid. A printmaker for more than fifteen years, Diuguid operates her studio in the heart of Brooklyn and is inspired by her grandfather’s business, Du-Good Chemical Laboratories, and his ethos of collaboration with the community.

For each exhibition at 52 Walker, Du-Good Press will work with the artist to create unique prints. Here, a conversation between Diuguid and Ebony L. Haynes, director of 52 Walker, on the origins of their ongoing collaboration.

A photograph of the interior of Du-Good Press’s studio space by Rafael Rios, dated 2022.

Inside Du-Good Press’s studio space. Photo by Rafael Rios

Inside Du-Good Press’s studio space. Photo by Rafael Rios

A photograph of Du-Good Press’s wall of tools, and proofs for artist Nikita Gale’s print on the wall, at right, by Rafael Rios, dated 2022.

Du-Good Press’s wall of tools, and proofs for artist Nikita Gale’s print on the wall, at right. Photo by Rafael Rios

Du-Good Press’s wall of tools, and proofs for artist Nikita Gale’s print on the wall, at right. Photo by Rafael Rios

A photograph of screenprinting ink shelved away in the studio by Rafael Rios, dated 2022.

Screenprinting ink shelved away in the studio. Photo by Rafael Rios

Screenprinting ink shelved away in the studio. Photo by Rafael Rios

Ebony: Can you share a bit about the origins of Du-Good Press?

Leslie: I started Du-Good Press in 2017. After working a bunch of jobs and learning the ropes in screenprinting, I felt I could handle the printing jobs on my own. I had long been curating people to make prints with me while I was working at other shops, and introducing them to new markets, so Du-Good Press was my solution to owning my own life’s work. As a medium, screenprinting is accessible but also very physically and spatially demanding—and it just made sense for me to have space to pursue my own ambitions, similar to my grandpa starting his business.

A photograph of a film used to make the screen for artist Kandis Williams’s screenprint by Rafael Rios, dated 2022.

A film used to make the screen for artist Kandis Williams’s screenprint. Photo by Rafael Rios

A film used to make the screen for artist Kandis Williams’s screenprint. Photo by Rafael Rios

A photograph of Leslie Diuguid sharing early trial proofs of Williams’s print by Rafael Rios, dated 2022.

Leslie Diuguid shares early trial proofs of Williams’s print. Photo by Rafael Rios

Leslie Diuguid shares early trial proofs of Williams’s print. Photo by Rafael Rios

Ebony: What was your approach to making the Kandis Williams print—the process of transferring a moving image to a print?

Leslie: While working with Kandis it was super helpful to know about everything she’s doing with Cassandra Press—to understand that these various elements, like writing, research, and pedagogy, incorporate her mark as an artist but don’t necessarily have her making that mark visually. Kandis is gathering information and directing the viewer down a different path.

Installation view of the exhibition, Kandis Williams: A Line, at 52 Walker in New York, dated 2021.

Installation view, Kandis Williams: A Line, 52 Walker, New York, 2021

Installation view, Kandis Williams: A Line, 52 Walker, New York, 2021

Leslie: This work in particular stood out as a reference point for the moving film’s single moment of collision, which visualizes how each of those figures can exist at the same time, in their same weights, at the same moment of their movement and positioning. Making a proof really helped enhance those qualities I saw coming out of the work.

An eleven-color screenprint on Ebony Colorplan paper by Kandis Williams, titled Triadic Ballet still, dated 2021.

Kandis Williams

Triadic Ballet still, 2021
Eleven-color screenprint on Ebony Colorplan paper
13 x 19 inches (33 x 48.3 cm)
Framed: 16 x 21 3/4 inches (40.6 x 55.2 cm)
Edition of 38, 3 AP, 1 PP
Signed and dated verso
$2,000
A detail from a screenprint by Kandis Williams, titled Triadic Ballet still, dated 2021.

Kandis Williams, Triadic Ballet still, 2021 (detail)

Kandis Williams, Triadic Ballet still, 2021 (detail)

Williams foregrounds these injustices, quietly but powerfully, while marking out parameters for another kind of vanguard.
Marcus Civin, Artforum

Kandis Williams’s practice spans collage, performance, video, assemblage, and installation. A Line, 52 Walker’s inaugural exhibition, featured a video, collages, and sculptures that move toward a formal dance notation—to capture and inscribe the qualities of movement in two dimensions. Williams envisions a space that accommodates the varied biopolitical economies that inform how movement might be read. She establishes indices that network the parts of the anatomy, regions of black diaspora, communication and obfuscation, and how popular culture and myth are interconnected.

This screenprint shows a still from Williams’s film Triadic Ballet (2021), which takes its title from Oskar Schlemmer’s 1922 Triadisches Ballett (Triadic Ballet). The film features Natasha Diamond-Walker, who performs multiple strike movements, marching steps, war dance postures, and militaristic “trance” acts, as well as contemporary vernacular configurations derived from HBCU majorettes, dance lines, high school marching bands, and step squads.

A photograph of Gale and Diuguid reviewing Gale’s films by Rafael Rios, dated 2022.

Gale and Diuguid review Gale’s films. Photo by Rafael Rios

Gale and Diuguid review Gale’s films. Photo by Rafael Rios

Ebony: What about your approach to creating Nikita Gale’s print? How did you come to the idea of using a different kind of paper and using the aluminum BODY PRINT works in the show as a reference point? We discussed how Nikita’s work considers the process of transferring memories and mark-making—how did you experiment with applying the screenprint and scratching away pigment from film?

Leslie: For Nikita, I wanted to check out the show before further investigating what their work was about—just experiencing it and being able to take in those body prints, which were so conceptually heavy. In the exhibition, there’s something about sound being so disruptive to your train of thought and the light creating a kind of shadowy play. Seeing the work installed and then diving deeper into their practice and influences from archaeology—understanding how archaeological themes and mark-making are captured on the aluminum panel—I thought about how that could be translated into something I knew how to work with.

A print by Nikita Gale, titled TEETH, dated 2022.

Nikita Gale

TEETH, 2022
Three-color screenprint on Yupo paper
Image: 12 x 9 inches (30.5 x 22.9 cm)
Paper: 20 x 16 inches (50.8 x 40.6 cm)
Edition of 30, 6 AP, 1 PP
Signed, dated, and numbered recto
$2,000

The display finds a true force in its omissions, inhibitions, and Gale’s refusal to be reduced.
Adam Kleinman, Art-Agenda

Nikita Gale’s END OF SUBJECT engaged with the history and politics of sound and its surrounds, recasting and destabilizing notions of witnessing, visibility, and representation. The exhibition showcased an aurally and visually rich environment in the gallery, complete with light and sound, which calls upon the tacit agreement between the audience and the materials that enables the act of viewing and experiencing. Probing how a performance might be constituted in the absence of the human figure, Gale reconfigured the production of the experience of presence as it is mediated by the physical body, via such mechanisms as lighting, staging, atmosphere, and sound, as well as expectations shaped by existing social and political systems.

An aluminum panel by Nikita Gale, titled BODY PRINT: BLOOD, dated 2022.

Nikita Gale, BODY PRINT: BLOOD, 2022

Nikita Gale, BODY PRINT: BLOOD, 2022

Installation view of the exhibition, Nikita Gale: END OF SUBJECT, at 52 Walker in New York, dated 2022.

Installation view, Nikita Gale: END OF SUBJECT, 52 Walker, New York, 2022

Installation view, Nikita Gale: END OF SUBJECT, 52 Walker, New York, 2022

Installation view of the exhibition, Nikita Gale: END OF SUBJECT, at 52 Walker in New York, dated 2022.

Installation view, Nikita Gale: END OF SUBJECT, 52 Walker, New York, 2022

Installation view, Nikita Gale: END OF SUBJECT, 52 Walker, New York, 2022

Installation view of the exhibition, Nikita Gale: END OF SUBJECT, at 52 Walker in New York, dated 2022.

Installation view, Nikita Gale: END OF SUBJECT, 52 Walker, New York, 2022

Installation view, Nikita Gale: END OF SUBJECT, 52 Walker, New York, 2022

Installation view of the exhibition, Nikita Gale: END OF SUBJECT, at 52 Walker in New York, dated 2022.

Installation view, Nikita Gale: END OF SUBJECT, 52 Walker, New York, 2022

Installation view, Nikita Gale: END OF SUBJECT, 52 Walker, New York, 2022

This screenprint takes inspiration from Gale’s BODY PRINT series, in which Gale indexed presence by creating an absence on the surface through processes of extraction. Words—drawn from generated lists of ways of describing people—were etched by the artist’s hand and by using a CNC engraving machine to carve deeper grooves into the metal.

A photograph of Gale using sandpaper to mark a film, from which Diuguid will create the screen for their print, by Rafael Rios, dated 2022.

Gale uses sandpaper to mark a film, from which Diuguid will create the screen for their print. Photo by Rafael Rios

Gale uses sandpaper to mark a film, from which Diuguid will create the screen for their print. Photo by Rafael Rios

A photograph of Gale using a box cutter to scratch away pigment from a film by Rafael Rios, dated 2022.

Using a box cutter, Gale scratches away pigment from the film. Photo by Rafael Rios

Using a box cutter, Gale scratches away pigment from the film. Photo by Rafael Rios

A photograph of detail of films and proofs for Gale’s print by Rafael Rios, dated 2022.

Detail of films and proofs for Gale’s print. Photo by Rafael Rios

Detail of films and proofs for Gale’s print. Photo by Rafael Rios

Leslie: For a screenprint, that meant working reductively. Reducing the amount of black on any given print area will leave negative space that could inform how that impression was made on metal in the first place. We used vellum or Yupo paper, which holds a crisper mark. It can really show the small flaws.

We were also thinking about light, as it is inherent to the work. Light is not something that’s in direct contact with the stencil, but by playing with Nikita’s mark, adding blackness and taking away information rather than adding to it, you get more of a shadowing effect overall.

A photograph of Diuguid setting up her screenprinting press by Rafael Rios, dated 2022.

Diuguid sets up her screenprinting press. Photo by Rafael Rios

Diuguid sets up her screenprinting press. Photo by Rafael Rios

A photograph of Diuguid preparing a screen for printing by Rafael Rios, dated 2022.

Diuguid prepares a screen for printing. Photo by Rafael Rios

Diuguid prepares a screen for printing. Photo by Rafael Rios

A photograph of Diuguid adjusting the registration of a film by Rafael Rios, dated 2022.

Diuguid adjusts the registration of a film. Photo by Rafael Rios

Diuguid adjusts the registration of a film. Photo by Rafael Rios

Du-Good Press was my solution to owning my own life’s work.
Leslie Diuguid

Ebony: Let’s talk a little about our collaboration.…

Leslie: It was just a lot of exciting and ambitious things coming together at the same time. We’re all independently moving bodies, but to have a similar point of origin makes it great to collaborate with you, because you know what you’re doing in the curating department, and I know what I’m doing in the print department. We can have very trustworthy conversations and it makes it easier to have artists trust both of us so that we can get to the point: all of us doing our best.

A photograph of Diuguid pulling an impression of Gale’s print by Rafael Rios, dated 2022.

Diuguid pulls an impression of Gale’s print. Photo by Rafael Rios

Diuguid pulls an impression of Gale’s print. Photo by Rafael Rios

A photograph of Diuguid drying a fresh print by Rafael Rios, dated 2022.

Diuguid dries a fresh print. Photo by Rafael Rios

Diuguid dries a fresh print. Photo by Rafael Rios

Ebony: I think trust is such a great description of this. I knew that I wanted you to run with whatever the collaboration with an artist looked like, and I was excited for you to have agency in that role. It felt like a no-brainer when I knew I wanted to do editions. When I saw that Aya Brown edition that you did and dove into your practice more, I was like, “Man, this is the only black woman who’s doing this, it has to be Leslie!” Can you talk about who some of your mentors were or are?

Leslie: My grandpa for sure. He was the reason why I started my business. My dad’s book, Our Fathers: Making Black Men, is the bible to Du-Good Press and also why I started my business to help people in my community like my grandpa did. He wouldn’t let any of his kids stay in the positions that were prescribed to them in society. Being from Lynchburg, Virginia, which, by the way, is historically not the best place for a black person to be from, he refused to be held down and instead used education to get further and beyond. I think about this all the time. I’m using these trampolining points that I’ve been able to access to get further than where I started.

A photograph of Diuguid’s parents attached to a TV-shaped radio gifted to her by her father, with John F. Kennedy’s eyeball pasted to the photo, by Rafael Rios, dated 2022.

A photo of Diuguid’s parents attached to a TV-shaped radio gifted to her by her father. Diuguid pasted John F. Kennedy’s eyeball to the photo shortly after. Photo by Rafael Rios

A photo of Diuguid’s parents attached to a TV-shaped radio gifted to her by her father. Diuguid pasted John F. Kennedy’s eyeball to the photo shortly after. Photo by Rafael Rios

Ebony: It’s heavy. They’re not just mentors, but a mentor legacy. The legacy is the mentorship.

Leslie: It’s within me, I wouldn’t be here without that. So it’s not really a mentor. It’s just a part of me.

There is the reflexive part of me. It’s in my own name: Diugood.
Leslie Diuguid

Ebony: Let’s talk about your approach to the printmaking practice.

Leslie: Screenprinting in particular is super versatile. It provides an open network of directions that artists can go, within my knowledge of what’s available, and it’s constantly growing and improving as far as technology is concerned. What was possible one generation ago can now be taken in a new direction, thanks to the evolving commercial production capabilities. You have to be aware of the flexibility within this one industry, and you can cover all kinds of different commercial and fine arts applications. Knowing the mechanics of the technical, distribution side that are happening with the stencil on the screen allows me to use those basic principles to do whatever I want as a printmaker.

A photograph of Diuguid in her outdoor washout booth by Rafael Rios, dated 2022.

Diuguid in her outdoor washout booth. Photo by Rafael Rios

Diuguid in her outdoor washout booth. Photo by Rafael Rios

Leslie: There is the reflexive part of me. It’s in my own name: Diuguid (“Du-Good”). To not just be eponymous but also somehow palindromic; to look to the past to understand how to get further in the positive direction of the future. Things can’t be made fast—it has to be slow, it has to be thoughtful, and every move is like in a chess game. The controller of all those little dots can determine how they come together or don’t; I’m the one making the map.

A photograph of Du-Good Press’s studio entrance by Rafael Rios, dated 2022.

Du-Good Press’s studio entrance. Photo by Rafael Rios

Du-Good Press’s studio entrance. Photo by Rafael Rios

Books with the words Instruction Manual on the cover by Nora Turato, dated 2022

Coming Soon: Prints by Nora Turato.

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