in Collaborations , Videos | 17 OCT 22

From Joan Armatrading to Mama Thornton: The Black Women Who Inspired Nikita Gale’s Guitars

At Frieze London, Ray Aggs, Alpha Maid and Joviale activate the guitars named after five female identifying black musicians

in Collaborations , Videos | 17 OCT 22
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For BMW Open Work at Frieze London 2022, American artist Nikita Gale presents ‘63/22’. Composed of five guitars designed in collaboration with BMW i7 designers, the commission looks back in history to an existing historical connection between cars and electric guitars. 1963, in fact, is the year car designer Ray Deitrich was invited by Gibson Guitars to create an offset guitar body, thus creating the Gibson Firebird.

Named after five female identifying Black musicians who changed the history of Rock and Roll but were perhaps overlooked (Minnie after Memphis Minnie, Tharpe after Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Lynn after Barbara Lynn, Joan after Joan Armatrading, Thorton after Big Mama Thorton), the guitars include parts and processes, as well as paint finishes sourced directly from the BMW i7 factory.

Activated on three occasions by guitarists Ray Aggs, Alpha Maid and Joviale over the course of Frieze London, the BMW lounge was transformed into a place of performance. These performances, Gale says, ‘are an extension of thinking about other bodies that play these guitars, and who these guitars are designed for.’

Further information on the individual guitars here.

Find out more about the BMW Open Work Commission here.