Breakfast opening: Wednesday 16 January, 9am – 10.30am
“I will have failed if the consensus is that I have simply made a video about having a baby. This is a video about time and labour (and identity/growth/momentum/rage/humour). It is also a video about names and biography.” – Kathryn Elkin
In this “pregnancy and baby” video—as the artist describes it—Kathryn Elkin tackles, with her usual sense of humour and irreverence, issues around motherhood, labour and creation, personal biography, being an artist and the transforming pregnant body. Queen was conceived and shot during the artist’s pregnancy and first months of parenthood. Having just acquired a new life role, Elkin sets out to dismantle the relationship between identity and performance. Is she a mother? Or is she performing motherhood? And for someone for whom the performance of the self is an artistic labour, how does this new form of “labour” come into the equation? As she writes, “we all experience feelings of performance and falseness in our interactions, personal and professional, perhaps mostly due to harbouring a fantasy of an essential self. The pleasure horror and necessity of our constructed individuation is a territory I am very attracted to”.
Queen is also a work about community-making that highlights the importance of friendship and exchange in artistic practice, and features a number of artists based in Newcastle where the video was developed—Katie Bentham, Grace Denton, Heather Bonnie Reid, Rene McBrearty, Holly Argent, Deanna Smith—who are all seen “performing” their artistic labour and bowling with Elkin. The bowling alley is of particular personal significance (her mother worked in one) whilst the bowling bowl provides a humorous metaphor for the pregnant body. Elkin also collaborated with Ben Wallers, aka the Rebel, on the soundtrack. “I want to break free”, they sing.
Kathryn Elkin (Belfast, 1983) is an artist working with performance, video and writing. Her idiosyncratic, self-reflexive and at times hilariously absurd video works deal with roleplaying and improvising, often resembling simplified versions of music videos and TV talk shows. In her work, Elkin fuses biographical memory with shared cultural memory (popular music, television and cinema), offering a comparison of the way in which we experience art to the ways and means it is understood culturally.
Queen was first presented at BALTIC 39 and was produced in the context of the Warwick Stafford Fellowship. BL CK B X: Kathryn Elkin is Elkin’s first solo show in London.