Teach Me How to Dougie:
D’Ette Nogle

by Attilia Fattori Franchini

When I finally met D’Ette Nogle last February, I realized that I was already familiar with her appearance after seeing her videos, many of which feature the artist herself. Her practice—encompassing objects, installation, video, and performance—has always been oriented to question the professionalization of art-making. Interested in the thin balance between art and labor, Nogle inquisitively dissects the economic, personal, cultural, and social structures that govern the art field’s immediate lived relations and working conditions.

Given that Nogle works full time in education, teaching and learning are recurring themes in her artistic production, as well as training materials, tools, and linguistic constructs. The upbeat video Culturally Relevant Pedagogy (Teach Me How to Dougie) (2009) shows the artist receiving a Dougie lesson. “Can you teach me how to Dougie?”—a man sings. “You know why? Cause all the bitches love me.” Calling upon her personal condition as “a learner, teacher, artist, worker, and consumer.” the artist adopts different perspectives to observe the complexity of art making and creative labor in post-capitalist societies. Artistic work is exemplary of how laborers in a hyper-atomized industry dominated by asymmetrical power structures, freelance contracts, and verbal offers are exploited and deprived. In the lecture-performance Bleeding Canvas: Teaching Video (2019), presented last year at Bodega, New York, Nogle offered a mixture of personal and political information, then began reciting a series of open questions: “Who made the rules? Who were in a position of authority in the media? How does that impact your definition of you?” We—students, viewers, makers—were thus prodded to question how our political and social views are formed, stated, or distorted. “Capitalist realism,” writes Mark Fischer, “is more like a pervasive atmosphere, conditioning not only the production of culture but also the regulation of work and education, and acting as a kind of invisible barrier constraining thought and action.”

Drawing from the language of pop culture while exploring shared affinities between media, artistic persona, and the maintenance of sociocultural values, Nogle questions the articulation of cultural and political thought and its social positioning.

Synchronically exhibited next to each other, two identical videos titled New Painting (Period of Significance) and New Painting (Premium Position) (both 2016) play footage of the actress Kristen Stewart candidly talking about her role in the French movie Clouds of Sils Maria (2014), analyzing the correspondence between the film narrative and her persona, forcefully aware of the media’s influence on art. There is a subtle and revealing sense of humor in the works, unfolding fundamental artistic questions through the paradoxical privileged position of a celebrity.