Karen KilimnikApril 20 - August 5, 2007
The Institute of Contemporary Art is pleased to present the first American survey for Karen Kilimnik (b. 1957, Philadelphia). Drawing correspondences between romantic tradition and consumer culture, Kilimnik's work brings a haunting and contrary sense of beauty to contemporary art. The world of the ballet and childhood, romantic painting and pop music, icons of film and fashion, signs of witchcraft, time-travel, and murder comprise an imagery that has been culled from the historic and recent past into an unsettling present. In a world where the forces of nature, youth, and terror, have taken awesome hold, Kilimnik's art rematerializes a quest for the romantic sublime.
Occupying both the ICA's main gallery spaces, the survey was selected by the curator with the artist, who typically approaches the exhibition of her work as a form of theatrical mis-en-scene. For this installation, Kilimnik specified the first floor galleries appear almost empty except for a discrete chamber where her paintings are installed salon style on red walls—a romantic museum framed by the modern architecture. This exhibition spans fifteen years of painting, drawings, assemblage sculptures, installation, photographs and video. Curated by Ingrid Schaffner, ICA Senior Curator, this exhibition is accompanied by a catalog publication and will be on view April 20 - August 5, 2007.
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Selected works from "Karen Kilimnik"
In the early 1990s Karen Kilimnik emerged as part of the "scatter" generation of artists (Felix Gonzales-Torres, Mike Kelley, Cady Noland, and Jack Pierson, among others) who were so-called for their patently punk, deconstructed installation art. Representative of this period is The Hellfire Club of The Avengers, 1989, an exploded rendition, complete with soundtrack, of an episode of the 1960s British spy show that Kilimnik continues to reference for its cool style and high artifice. The artist's use of copying as means of taking possession of, or mastering, an image is demonstrated by the "Master Hare" series of paintings after the eponymous work by Sir Joshua Reynolds. (In the most recent iteration, the young master has contracted a bad case of chicken pox.) Alternatively, Kilimnik submerges her identity in the "Me As" series of paintings and photographs, in which she is disguised as various models and movie stars. The poetics and frustrations of projecting one's self through media culture are expressed in drawings, which crib from a wide range of sources, to read as diary-like disclosures. Collectively, these works show how Kilimnik has expanded an essentially collage-based practice into a full-scale and theatrical form of production. One of her current projects is to realize a ballet—everything from costumes to choreography—made entirely from passages clipped from classic performances. The video installation the bluebird folly, 2006 presents the concept in action.
Installation at Philadelphia's Historic Powel House
Concurrent with the exhibition at ICA, a site specific installation by the artist is on view at the Powel House in Philadelphia beginning June 26 through August 12, 2007 as part of Landmarks Contemporary Projects. Built in 1765 as the home of power couple Elizabeth and Samuel Powel, the Powel House is furnished with museum-quality clocks, portraits and other treasures and is among the nation's best-preserved examples of Georgian architecture. It is also one of the artist's favorite local landmarks. The Powel House is located half a block southeast of Independence National Historical Park, in the heart of Society Hill (244 South Third Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106). Admission is pay what you wish. For hours and information call 215.627.0364 or go to Powel House.
A fully illustrated catalog accompanies the exhibition and will be available in August. It will feature a curatorial essay by the curator analyzing the development of the artist's work and its historic contexts. A series of brief commissioned essays on related themes will also be included: "Gossip" by cultural critic Wayne Koestenbaum; "Ballet" by dance historian Joel Lobenthal; "Titles" by art historian Scott Rothkopf; and "Affect" by Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, curator Dominic Molon. The catalog will also include a complete bibliography and an illustrated exhibition chronology.
This exhibition premiers at ICA (April 21 - August 5, 2007) and travels to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami (September 7 - November 4, 2007), the Aspen Art Museum (December 14, 2007 - February 3, 2008) and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (February 23 - June 8, 2008).
Installation views at ICA. Photos by Aaron Igler. > click to enlarge
ICA acknowledges The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for generous exhibition support. We are grateful to Barbara B. & Theodore R. Aronson for primary support of the catalog and to the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation and 303 Gallery, New York. ICA thanks the Areté Foundation, Arthur Dantchik, The Dietrich Foundation Inc., The Toby Fund and David & Geraldine Pincus for supplementary contributions. Additional funding has been provided by The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Overseers Board for the Institute of Contemporary Art, friends and members of ICA, and the University of Pennsylvania. ICA is also grateful for in-kind support from Loews Philadelphia Hotel. In addition, ICA is grateful to The Chodorow Exhibition Initiative Fund for support of the exhibition's tour.(Information complete as of 4/25/07.)
Images, top to bottom: Karen Kilimnik, the electricity fairy (on the potted palm) lights up the crush room for the party, 2000, laser print, glitter, archival glue, 17 x 11 inches. Courtesy of 303 Gallery, New York...Karen Kilimnik, Prince Charming, 1998, water soluble oil color on canvas, 20 x 24 inches. Courtesy of 303 Gallery, New York.