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December 12, 2011

Monet Clark at Krowswork

Ventured to see Monet Clark's : California Girl - A Retrospective Debut this Saturday at Krowswork. An artist seemingly in mid-career, with The Look Book series created in the present year - there is a sense of progression as you meander through the exhibit. To view a retrospective of a performance artist, takes on a different kind of journey versus the likes of painter. As a performance artist, she is directly present in her work. Using video as her recording medium, you experience her "performances" as if behind the camera lens. You are the onlooker of a sacred world that is the artist's.
If you know the gallery Krowswork, it may seem atypical to begin in the pew room, then make your way to the file room. This gallery paradigm serves Clark's work on a perceptive journey through her creative life as a practicing artist. Make your way to the projecting Compulsive Stripper, then to the petite photo album sized photographs documenting the rare Environmental Disease, which conflicted her life immensely, to the project room where you find a "relic" of stacked VHS tapes indicated to contain "women on TV." In 12 Frames of Isolation you begin to get a sense of Clark's source of inspiration.

[12 Frames of Isolation]
Her collection feeds an obsession of filling blank tapes with gathered material, serving as studies of the female performer.
Exit this room and you find the Look Book series,

[Muse from the Look Book Series]
created in 2011, displaying five separate television screens portrait oriented, each holding an archetype of American culture. She confronts the perception of differing women characters that are perceived in our contemporary world.
[Daikini from the Look Book Series]
The last video of the series is Daikini portraying the female embodiment of mindful power and spiritual connectedness. Clark asks the viewer to participate in this ritualistic experience, as she performs satirical movements accompanied with inserted text that guides the viewer. This unique approach allows the viewer to become involved in the work. They are no longer only a viewer, but a participator, actively and directly becoming involved in the work. It is an odd feeling, as you wonder who is the serious one, as you fall into a serious roll.
You wonder, throughout the cuts and takes in this 25 minute piece, if she has to take a break to refocus herself to a serious roll she plays herself. Clark draws you in through text, and stares into the camera lens, appearing as if she is focusing directly on you. With the use of cheesy props, mystical symbolism, and ceremonial gestures you can't help but sense falseness and spirituality simultaneously.
As a collective whole, these works are accompanied with irony and mockery, that provide a sense of truth. As the viewer she challenges you with serious subject matter, and entangles it in glitz and glamour, allowing you to choose your perception throughout. She is a performer, director, editor, and entertainer. We try to read the visual language she provides, and with that attempt, we are confronted with her ability to disguise and deceive her own messages. Brilliant.

(photos credited to

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