As the sole protagonist in her performative videos, Kate Gilmore struggles to overcome absurd and manufactured challenges—climbing out of holes, jumping rope in heels, squeezing out of tight spots. Her performances share a lineage with time-based "endurance" work of the 1970s, such as that of Vito Acconci and Chris Burden, and expand on feminist and performance art in the tradition of Joan Jonas and Marina Abramovic. Like these artists Gilmore uses her body to explore physical limits and social norms. Performing in prim dresses and the right shoes, Gilmore adds a comedic element to her exertions underscoring the conflicted social messages that women navigate on a daily basis.
This exhibition brings together seven key works on video and a newly commissioned performance, displayed in the gallery as both video projection and large-scale sculptural installation.
For A Tisket, A Tasket Gilmore is videotaped in a private performance in which she pushes baskets filled with paint around an 8-foot high maze-like climbing structure complete with spiral ramps. As she moves up the ramp, the baskets slowly release the paint, creating spontaneous "drawings" on the surface of the climbing structure. The structure is designed in response to the open verticality of the museum's first floor gallery allowing the video to be shot from above resulting in a visually flattened space that fills the camera frame. Shot in one take, Gilmore is in full command of the video’s compositional integrity. The final outcome of her performance, on the other hand, is an unknown variable.
In referencing art historical actions and forms such as the Abstract Expressionist “drip” and the Minimalist monolith, Gilmore's A Tisket, A Tasket presents a comic send-up with serious undertones of the persistent stereo-types and heroic myths still used to define artistic merit. Equally resonant is her use of physical comedy in the tradition of Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett. Playing off the machinations that these comics pursue in their efforts to garner attention, achieve success, make things right, Gilmore says,” I often think about Lucille Ball's assembly-line scene [in the “chocolate factory” episode of “I Love Lucy”], where she’s trying to put everything together but the conveyor belt is going too fast for her to keep up. She needs to improvise. This scene seems to sum up a lot of my work. Starting out with a logic––this should work!––no matter how absurd, and then through the process everything gets out of whack, and it’s my job to fix it.”
Kate Gilmore was born in Washington D.C. in 1975 and lives and works in New York. Her work has been exhibited at the 2010 Whitney Biennial; the Brooklyn Museum; The Kitchen; Indianapolis Museum of Art; Bryant Park (Public Art Fund); White Columns; Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati; Artspace; The J. Paul Getty Museum; The Rose Art Museum; and PS1/MoMA Contemporary Art Center. Gilmore has been the recipient of several international awards and honors, such as the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Award for Artistic Excellence, the Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance, The LMCC Workspace Residency, New York Foundation for The Arts Fellowship, and The Marie Walsh Sharpe Space Residency. Her work is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art; the Brooklyn Museum; Whitney Museum of American Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a full-color brochure with an interview by Suzanne McClelland.
The exhibitions and related publications are made possible with major support from the UAlbany Office of the President, Office of the Provost, The University at Albany Foundation, University Auxiliary Services, and the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation. Special thanks to the UAlbany Performing Arts Center for their generosity in loaning equipment for this exhibition.
A Tisket, A Tasket, 2013
Single channel video, 32:14 minutes; color; sound
Courtesy of the artist and David Castillo Gallery