My memory finally caught up with the ephemera of a familiar artist when I went to go see Katya Grokhovsky’s show Bodybeautiful at Galerie Protégé.
I first saw Grokhovsky perform earlier this year at Performance Anxiety, a show held at CultureFix on the Lower East Side. That night, January 17, she walked around the space wearing a headdress made of mixed media and interacted with the audience. The piece was called “The (Lovely) Immigrant” and lasted two hours, with Grokhovsky performing between other pieces throughout the night. The same headdress is on display in Bodybeautiful, now titled “The Lovely Immigrants, Lover D.”
Bodybeautiful, which was curated by artist Peter Gynd, is Grokovsky’s first solo show. It features, in addition to the head sculptures, which are her post-performance ephemera, collages, an installation, and two looping, simultaneously playing 27-minute videos of a performance by her.
Grokhovsky’s head sculptures are grotesque and laced with feminine motifs — splattered pink paint, ribbons, strings, and plush stuffed animals sewn together — to create post-performance ephemera that have an exaggerated, almost circus-like feel to them. Looking at them, you never get the sense that they were an attempt to create feminine objects; rather, the intent seems to have been to apply a superficial idea of femininity to grotesque objects.
Concealment of identity is an important part of Grokhovsky’s work, and it stands out as a prominent theme in the show, particularly in the head sculptures and videos. The latter, displayed side by side, are meant to be viewed as a whole, with each one cutting to differing angles of the same performance: close-ups here, views from a distance there. The effect plays with the idea of women under continual gaze. The performance in the video was shot in the gallery, and it shows Grokhovsky draped in a long brown fabric from head to toe, obscuring her identity. Throughout the performance, the artist tries to complete tasks such as pulling a rope or playing the piano, yet in each she appears to be struggling, somehow hindered in the action.
The installation, meanwhile, features a mannequin lying on the floor, buried under a heap of clothes — bright wigs, spontaneous fabric, a cushion used for a bed. Only solid white limbs protrude, leaving the mannequin’s sexual identity to the imagination of the viewer. It’s an effective sight that shows the burden of dressing the part, and it again brings forth Grokhovsky’s flair for exaggeration, with the bright, energetic chaos of the wigs and oversized clothes strewn about the floor.
“I was really interested as a woman, and what it means to be always visible, looked at, commented on,” she told Hyperallergic. “What do you do to negate that? But also, a lot of performance artists just stand there and, like, ‘know who I am,’ and I’m sort of negating that by, ‘you don’t know who I am.’”
Grokhovsky’s collage work is also on display at Galerie Protégé; she uses unconventional painting mediums such as beet juice and coffee, giving the pieces a watercolor look, but she says all of them are non-archival and will fade over time. “They’re actually disappearing as they age, which is what women do.”
Katya Grokhovksy: Bodybeautiful continues at Galerie Protégé (197 Ninth Avenue, Chelsea, Manhattan) through October 10.
Moving too fast on your commute, looking out of the corner of your eye one second too late, and you might miss HOTTEA’s yarn installations.
Peruvian history is a contentious subject, and the authorities in charge of writing its first drafts should not be taken at their word.
Presented by Northwestern’s Block Museum and McCormick School of Engineering, this new exhibition seeks empathy at the boundaries of life. On view in Evanston, Illinois.
A little detail in an artwork can reveal that sometimes what is right on the surface can change our understanding of the whole.
Oh Shit! retraces the historical arc of feces from ancient Rome to the sewage challenges and potential innovations of the 21st century.
Located in Des Moines, Iowa, this residency for emerging and established artists includes studio and living space, a $1,000 monthly stipend, and more.
The controversial technology determined that the so-called de Brécy Tondo is an original by the Italian Renaissance master.
Specialists inflated the protest artwork as part of conservation testing at the Museum of London.
Fully-funded teaching assistantships are standard for MFA students at the top-ranked, flagship research university in the state of New York.
Some museums are opting for new language to describe the preserved individuals in their collections who were once living humans.
As art history buffs on the app have pointed out, both movements attribute meaning to the meaningless.