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Artist Kate Gilmore has been creating her single channel video pieces since the early 2000s. Trained as a sculptor, Gilmore began experimenting with video during her master’s education at School of Visual Arts in New York and has since gained international renown as a performative video artist.
Gilmore constructs absurd, even wacky, obstacles that she must overcome, all while wearing a dress, heels, and a full face of makeup. Every piece is performed and recorded privately by Gilmore—the camera being her only witness. In Cake Walk (2005), Gilmore wears a pair of roller skates and attempts to climb a slanted wooden wall. In With Open Arms (2005), Gilmore repetitively holds her arms open wide, trying to indicate the end of a performance. She is pelted with tomatoes and constantly wipes juice from her eyes, all while maintaining a beaming smile. Although Gilmore is always the performer, she does not view herself as the subject of her pieces, instead choosing to see the female body as subject and manipulated form.
What connects all these works is the element of struggle; Gilmore’s character must struggle to complete the challenge she has set up for herself, no matter how impossibly difficult it may appear. While to some viewers Gilmore’s works may seem merely silly, these videos more importantly serve as pointed critiques of the societal and self-inflected barriers women experience as they struggle to succeed. However, Gilmore does not set out to make exclusively feminist minded pieces, as she states herself: “We all know what it means to struggle, to ‘lose it’”.
Kate Gilmore, video art, performance art, labor, women, struggle
Art Practice | Film and Media Studies | Performance Studies | Women's Studies
Barkun, Deborah and Gilmore, Kate, "Artist Kate Gilmore in Conversation with Dr. Deborah Barkun Ph.D." (2019). Berman Conversation Series. 6.
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