Michael in Black by Nicole Miller
Published by CARA/Public Fiction.
Edited with introduction by Lauren Mackler and Nicole Miller. Text and image contributions by Jared Sexton, Hannah Black, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Greg Tate, Ocean Vuong, Negar Azimi, Anna Deavere Smith, Nikita Gale, Kazu Hiro, Ligia Lewis, Jasper Marsalis. Interview with Bradford Young, Nicole Miller, Dr. Yvonne Cagle, Alonzo King.
On the reconstitution of a body, death, translation, and editing
This first monograph on artist and filmmaker Nicole Miller focuses on a single sculpture by the artist: Michael in Black (2018). This book brings together a cohort of writers and other artists through newly commissioned texts and works for the page, as well as republished texts and images that exist as their own whole. Some texts hinge on the sculpture, others are tangents. The book’s texts and images build on each other, functioning as a prism for the publication’s subject.
Michael in Black (2018) is a bronze cast of Michael Jackson’s kneeling figure, poured from a mold made directly from his body around 1986. This talismanic object comprises myriad aspects of celebrity and image: the objecthood of the performer, the potency and perversity of objects, death, and grief.
This sculpture is an outlier in Miller's work, though it excavates some concerns she has similarly articulated in moving image: her recurring interest in the self-performance of her film subjects; the dehumanizing effects of the mass gaze; the celebrity as a host object for contemporary projections; the tactility of film, the sculptural qualities of editing; and the potential for self-storytelling to reconstitute an individual’s wholeness.