Installation view of Derek Fordjour & Nick Lehane’s work on display in NGV Triennial from 3 December 2023 to 7 April 2024 at NGV International, Melbourne. Photo: Sean Fennessy<br/>
© Derek Fordjour, Nick Lehane and Petzel Gallery, New York, All Rights Reserved

Derek Fordjour & Nick Lehane

Derek Fordjour
Photo: Chase Hall

Nick Lehane

Derek Fordjour
United States born 1974

Nick Lehane
United States born 1987

Level 2
NGV International
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Ranging from painting and sculpture to installation and performance, Derek Fordjour’s exuberant and multi-layered works feature athletes, performers and other archetypes central to cultural rituals and communal rites of passage.

Inspired by the Bunraku style of Japanese Puppet Theatre, Fly away originated as a live puppet show co-created by Fordjour and award-winning puppeteer Nick Lehane. Depicting a fable-like narrative of a man’s quest for mastery, it follows a cycle of wins and losses as the central character attempts a series of skills such as football, horseriding and music. With a visible team of puppeteers included in the frame, the work raises questions around autonomy, control and dependence.

Derek Fordjour is an American interdisciplinary artist and educator of Ghanaian heritage who works in collage, video/film, sculpture and painting. Fordjour was born to parents of Ghanaian heritage. He is a graduate of Morehouse College, Atlanta, and earned a master’s degree in art education from Harvard University and an MFA in painting from Hunter College. His work has been reviewed in The New York Times, Financial Times, Los Angeles Times and Hyperallergic, and he has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair and Forbes Magazine. His work is held in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Art Gallery of New South Wales; and Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Nick Lehane is a puppet artist and theater maker based in Brooklyn, NY. He works as an actor, puppeteer, designer, deviser and director in theater, television, film/video and performance art. His work has been presented throughout the United States, in Canada, England, France, Singapore and Uzbekistan, has been named a New York Times “Critics Pick”, and has been selected among the yearly “Top 10 Theater Moments” by Vulture/New York Magazine. Lehane was the lead puppeteer and puppet director for Alex Da Corte’s ROY G BIV at Whitney Biennial 2022: Quiet as It’s Kept. He holds a BFA from The Carnegie Mellon School of Drama and studied at The Moscow Art Theater School and The Rhodopi International Theater Laboratory in Smolyan, Bulgaria.

Purchased with funds donated by July Cao, 2023

Puppeteers: Dorothy James, Rowan Magee, Andy Manjuck, Jon Riddleberger, Emma Wiseman
Music: © 2020 Hassan Anderson, John Aylward, All Rights Reserved
Oboist/Composer: Hassan Anderson
Oboist: Stuart Breczinski
Producer: Danni Pascuma
Composer: John Aylward
Production Stage Manager: Caren Celine Morris
Lighting and Theatre Designer: Marika Kent
Sound Designer/Dramaturg: Christopher Darbassie
Movement Consultant: Joseph Lymous
Theatre Design and Construction: Seth Kelly
Puppet Design: Robert Maldonado
Costume Design: Rebecca Zammito
Props Coordinator: Maggie Ellis
Props Design: Pablo Diaz