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Collection > Senga Nengudi >

R.S.V.P.

1975

  • Medium

    Nylon mesh and sand

  • Dimensions

    82 1/2 x 113 1/2 x 4 1/2 in. (209.55 x 288.29 x 11.43 cm)

  • Accession number

    2005.35

  • Object label

    Though Senga Nengudi’s R.S.V.P. is abstract, its forms suggest a body or body parts—limbs, breasts, buttocks, appendages, wombs. Store-bought nylon pantyhose filled with sand, knotted, stretched, and tacked to the wall mimic the elasticity of skin, tender at life’s beginnings and then sagging with age and strain. It is particularly piercing that the crotch of the pantyhose, splayed out vulnerably at the sculpture’s center, bears dramatic forces of tension and suspension. The cultural associations of the hosiery and its color identify the body alluded to as black and feminine. Yet the body in question also belongs to viewers: the title of the work, a commonly used French acronym, entreats viewers to “please respond.” Nengudi frequently used her R.S.V.P. series in choreographed performances, where the sculptures served as restraints, props, and costumes.