Nothing Under Heaven by Joseph Liatela

Nothing Under Heaven by Joseph Liatela

September 13 – December 9, 2022
George Segal Gallery

The Montclair State University Galleries will present the exhibition Nothing Under Heaven by Joseph Liatela this fall. The artist’s first solo museum exhibition brings together new commissions and recent works that explore the need for connection, pleasure, and agency within oppressive systems. Exhibited alongside photography by Andy Warhol (1928-1987) and religious art by Carlo Dolci (1616-1686) from the University Galleries’ collection, Liatela invokes a range of stories to assess what it means to move together, remember together, and repair together. The exhibition will be on view at the University Galleries’ newly reconfigured flagship exhibition space, the George Segal Gallery.  

Liatela correlates spaces of communal experience – churches, medical institutions, and clubs – where promises of salvation and healing commingle in proximity to loss and grief. By uniting these different spaces through a range of mediums and interdisciplinary analysis, Liatela reveals how these disparate environments hold similar contradictions that impact the way we perceive ourselves and each other. Within the exhibition, the search for absolution in a Church, the potential for restoration through medical care, and the rapturous escapism of the club become entangled. Liatela also unites ideologies of the afterlife – the veneration of patron saints, possibilities of dancing with the ghosts of loved ones, and the lingering specter of death in hospitals – to further pronounce their similarities while making their differences visible as well. 

Curated by Jesse Bandler Firestone, Curator and Exhibition Coordinator

Exhibition Resources

Opening Reception and Live Performance

  • Thursday, September 22, 4 – 7 p.m.
  • We celebrated the opening of Nothing Under Heaven with a live performance of To Move Is To Remember. Remarks by Director Megan C. Austin, Curator Jesse Bandler Firestone, and artist Joseph Liatela.


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About the Artist

Joseph Liatela is an interdisciplinary artist based in New York City. Using performance, sculpture, and video, he makes work that examines issues of biopolitics, memorial, trans and queer subjectivities, embodiment, and collective movement.

Liatela earned a BFA with distinction from California College of the Arts and an MFA from Columbia University. He has been awarded grants and fellowships from the Zellerbach Family Foundation, Vermont Studio Center, The Banff Centre, California College of the Arts, Columbia University, Artist Grant, and was a finalist for the prestigious Found Work Artist Prize in 2021. His work has been shown at Denniston Hill, Human Resources Los Angeles, the Monmouth Museum, The Jewish Museum, The Leslie-Lohman Museum, Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, PS122 Gallery, and Proyecto Galería CDMX, among many others.

Liatela’s writing has been published by the Leslie-Lohman Museum Journal and Oxford University Press. His work has been featured in Artsy, The Leslie-Lohman Museum Journal, SF MoMA’s Open Space, EMERGENCY Index, ArtNews, Hyperallergic, Artforum, and Art & Education. Current and upcoming exhibitions include Cultivating at Marli Matsumoto in São Paulo, From Confucious to Christ at Yeh Gallery in Queens, Last Night at Hot Bed Gallery in Philadelphia, The Columbia University Summer Exhibition at ChaShaMa in New York City, a group exhibition at Half Gallery in New York City, and a solo exhibition at Montclair State University in the Fall of 2022. For 2022-2023 he will be an artist in residence at Smack Mellon in Brooklyn, NY.