Body of Work
Organized by David Norr, Chief Curator and
Rose Bouthillier, Assistant Curator
Messy, chaotic, and excessive, Kate Gilmore’s performance-based works show the artist confronting absurd physical challenges. In all of her works, Gilmore wears distinctly feminine attire, including tight floral dresses and high heels. This clothing contrasts with the strenuous activities she undertakes, while also serving to make them more awkward and difficult. At times, Gilmore’s actions appear laughable and doomed to fail. At others, the artist rages in a mode of creative destruction, provoking a complex range of responses, from pity and amusement, to empathy and admiration.
Gilmore offers a contemporary reassessment of both hardcore and feminist performance practices that emerged in the 1960s and 70s, established by artists such as Marina Abramović, Chris Burden, and Carolee Schneemann. These artists also used their bodies to explore physical limits and social norms, often through exposure and endurance. Drawing from this history, Gilmore creates a personal, persistent, and tragi-comic method, using her body as a site to articulate female identity, artistic labor, and resistance.
Body of Work surveys a decade of Gilmore’s forceful output, bringing together five key works on video and a newly commissioned performance, displayed in the gallery as both video and sculptural installation. This new work, Love 'em, Leave 'em (2013), presents a 10-foot tall structure which Gilmore repeatedly climbs, carrying hundreds of vases and pots filled with paint. Dropped from above, the vessels shatter and splatter into a cohesive composition. The clean, white, monumental structure refers to Minimalist forms, while the explosive action and dripping paint allude to Abstract Expressionism. Humorously and destructively engaging these modernist tropes, Gilmore challenges their heroic myths and the gendered stereotypes of art making in general.
Kate Gilmore (1975, Washington, D.C.) lives and works in New York. Exhibitions of her work have been held at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, and Parasol Unit, London. In 2010 she participated in the Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Collections holding her work include The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.
This exhibition is funded by Leadership Circle gifts supporting inaugural year programs and exhibitions.