AO On Site – New York: Opening of Kembra Pfahler at Participant Inc. Through October 14th, 2012

September 16th, 2012

Kembra Pfahler installation at Participant (2012). All photos by Ryann Donnelly for Art Observed

On view through October 14 at Participant Inc. gallery in New York City’s Lower East Side is a new solo show from multi-media artist and performer, Kembra Pfahler. The sculptural objects included in the show are inspired a new song by Pfahler’s rock band, The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black.

Opening at Participant Inc., New York City

Kembra Pfahler (2012).

In the show’s press release, the song is  “a protest anthem, a love song, and manifesto,” in celebration of “the death of the patriarch.” This idea is referenced throughout the show by the array of multi-colored phalluses, which Pfahler has appropriated in pastels and primaries at an exaggerated scale. On opening night of the show, Pfahler’s band performed on a stage set at the back of the room, seemingly mimicking the facade of a religous altar.

Kembra Pfahler, Fuck Island (2012).

Pfahler also includes several objects which reference domesticity and female childhood. A row of plates lines one of the gallery walls with the show’s title painted beneath a thick, high-gloss glaze. Cartoon portraits of Pfahler in her baby blue body paint, and thick eye makeup have also been laid into the plates, transforming them from useful domestic items into art objects.

Kembra Pfahler (2012).

Next to her plates, Pfahler has installed a child’s play area with a painted tea set, and a toaster housed within another phallus in bright red. Other references to childhood can be seen in the dolls which Pfahler adorns in her performance makeup as “femlins,” as well as a large white crib with a child’s mobile hanging above it. The mobile is made of hanging phalluses, which dangle above another pink phallus sculpture laid inside the crib.

Kembra Pfahler, Fuck Island (2012).

Kembra Pfahler (2012).

In the past, Pfahler has worked within a feminist vernacular.  In the exhibition, the artist uses male imagery, perhaps for the first time; however, she attempts an invasion by “dolls, kittens, and household appliances”. Pfahler creates an extreme environment, which destabilizes various icons of gender through her aesthetic appropriations, pairings and dogmatic underpinnings expressed in the musical component of the work.

Kembra Pfahler opening at Participant Inc., New York City

Opening at Participant Inc., New York City

-R. Donnelly

Related Links

Exhibition Site [Participant Inc.]