The Hugo Boss Prize 2018: Simone Leigh, “Loophole of Retreat”


The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents “Loophole of Retreat,” by Jamaican-American artist Simone Leigh, winner of the Hugo Boss Prize 2018 [see previous post Simone Leigh wins Guggenheim’s Hugo Boss Prize]. The exhibition will be on view at the Guggenheim Museum (1071 5th Avenue, New York) from April 19 to August 4, 2019. The following description focuses on Leigh’s artistic trajectory, which spans sculpture, video, and social practice, and is “continuously and insistently centered the black female experience.”J

Loophole of Retreat presents a new body of work by Simone Leigh (b. Chicago, 1967), winner of the Hugo Boss Prize 2018, an award for significant achievement in contemporary art. The exhibition’s title is drawn from the writings of Harriet Jacobs (1813–1897), a formerly enslaved abolitionist who pseudonymously published an account of her life. It refers to the grueling seven years she spent hiding from her master in a tiny crawl space beneath the rafters of her grandmother’s home—an act of astonishing fortitude that carved out a space of sanctuary and autonomy in defiance of an unjust reality. Over the course of a career that spans sculpture, video, and social practice, Leigh has continuously and insistently centered the black female experience. Her forms, rendered in materials such as ceramic, raffia, and bronze, unify a timeless beauty with valences that are both deeply personal and piercingly political. Summoning the ancient archetype of the female nude and inflecting it with vernacular and folk traditions, the artist merges the human body with domestic vessels or architectural elements, evoking the labors of care and protection that have historically fallen to women. Encompassing a suite of sculptures and a sound installation, as well as a text by the renowned historian Saidiya Hartman, Loophole of Retreat explores narratives of communal nurture, resilience, and resistance.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a daily program presenting films by Simone Leigh and Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich. For more about Leigh’s work, read an essay by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts excerpted from the catalogue accompanying the 2018 award:


The Hugo Boss Prize 2018: Simone Leigh, Loophole of Retreat is organized by Katherine Brinson, Daskalopoulos Curator, Contemporary Art, and Susan Thompson, Associate Curator, with Amara Antilla, Assistant Curator.



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