Macabre underground clubs, Extreme Gender Art and Kyrahm

Written by Aleksandras Rimdžius

Who is this attract­ive woman, hid­ing behind a strange pseud­onym of Kyrahm Mutazioni Profane or just Kyrahm? Interesting, cour­ageous, pro­voc­at­ive – a bit more than just a con­cep­tual art per­former from Rome’s under­ground. The essence of her art comes from extremely abstract, exist­ing on the edges of art post – porn, body – art cul­ture also from sources from and repro­duced mean­ings of spe­cific con­texts (such as reli­gion and mythology).

A cer­tain key, let­ting us under­stand the essence of this art bet­ter, can be the fin­ished com­mu­nic­a­tion stud­ies and her thesis on art trans­form­a­tion in the era of com­puter advance­ment. We could prob­ably call her one of dis­tinct fol­low­ers of the fam­ous Marshall McLuhan and his state­ment that any media is, at the same time, inform­a­tion in itself (The Medium is the Message). In 1999, when she was 19 years old, she became the win­ner of Mythos com­pet­i­tion as the best in the con­cep­tual art cat­egory. She is act­ively par­ti­cip­at­ing gal­lery activ­ity in Italy, she is a stu­dent and a co-​worker of sculptor Dominico Pesce. In 2007, she meets the chamele­onic per­former of Drag King per­form­ances (on this occa­sion – women, who are trans­form­ing into men, in Drag Queen’s case – men into women) Julius Kaiser. Together these women began an era of col­lab­or­a­tion and exper­i­ment­ing, the devel­op­ment of artist’s speech, game of install­a­tions, play­ing with gender roles and imit­a­tion of their unavoid­able tragedy of their rela­tion­ship, as well as the organ­iz­a­tion of exper­i­mental performances.

The first fruit of their col­lab­or­a­tion – a per­form­ance “Obsolescence of the Kind”. In 2008, this work was in top 30, formed annu­ally by US art explorers and art crit­ics, of the best gender prob­lem­atic reflect­ing per­form­ances in the world. After a year, this tan­dem suc­cess­fully per­formed in a con­tem­por­ary art exhib­i­tion “The Thread of Ariadne”.

This is the formal part, now let’s go a bit deeper.

In the eternal city, to which all the world’s roads lead to; in the city, where there is a chim­ney that can draw the atten­tion of mil­lions of Christians. Beneath this sur­face, from first sight with their own goal, dark and macabre under­ground clubs. One of them – Extreem Gender Art move­ment, to which our article’s her­oes belong to. The begin­ning of this phe­nomenon – 2008, its main accent – search of new artistic expres­sions (devot­ing spe­cial atten­tion to the poten­tially cen­sored ones) and exper­i­mental music workshops.

Whilst cre­at­ing, these artists fol­low a prin­ciple that everything in their art that is hap­pen­ing has really to hap­pen: real blood, bod­ies and their wounds. It is like a whiff of fresh air, refresh­ing things that, as it would seem, have already become self – explan­at­ory – such as sac­ral­ity and gender. Off course, when talk­ing about this, we all can quote the first para­graph Wikipedia level defin­i­tions and they will be com­pletely cor­rect, on the other hand, does any­thing can be more of an obstruc­tion to under­stand some­thing deeper than the dic­tate of abso­lute cor­rect­ness? And to us this is espe­cially rel­ev­ant, we are liv­ing in the time of vast social changes and it seems, whether we want it or not, but we have to overthink the con­cepts of genders, get rid of slow­ing factors and ste­reo­types. Moreover, loudly talk­ing minor­it­ies encour­age a value con­flict — gay pro­ces­sions, the fam­ous gender loops pro­gram. Unavoidable changes prob­ably can be harmful.

Probably the most impress­ive Kyrahm’s work – trip­tych “Human install­a­tions” that in the end of last year, in New York, won the Celeste prize. It’s like the essence of the move­ment and artists’ (Ron Athey, Franco B, Annie Sprinkle, Stelarc…) pieces in itself absorbed cloth.

In the first part of “Gender obsol­es­cence” the prob­lem­atic of trans­form­a­tion, muta­tion, meta­morph­osis is being emphas­ised. In this piece, as much as in any other works, the creator’s tend­ency to take over cer­tain expres­sion forms of theater, to reduce them and to use in her own way is clear. Here, gender is looked at not as a given or con­stant but as daily cre­ated new real­ity. Man and woman – their essence and masks. The trans – sexu­al­ity, the gender change to trans – sexual is not an act of becom­ing, it’s more an act of going back, dis­cov­er­ing of your true self

http://​vimeo​.com/​2​2​0​8​6​992

Another sim­ilar, with con­stant move­ment asso­ci­ated per­form­ance is “Ingemisco”(it. Moan, a term often used in music). Its essence is woman­hood and what a woman has to go through on the road to social recog­ni­tion. Here, Kyrahm is like from its mol­lusk escaped Botticeli’s Venus, “dressed” in white roses and till blood stuck needles, it’s not a paint­ing any­more, it’s a real, life human being. Opera’s soloist’s Sergio Panajia’s per­formed Verdi’s Requiem not only reflects her pain step­ping towards the dreamed ideal but also the given flowers reflect, maybe at least the naive, self – deception.

It’s not a very ori­ginal form of expres­sion: Franco B in his fam­ous per­form­ance “I miss You” walked around naked with bloody feet, Gina Pane tried to present her mes­sage by climb­ing a razor blade seasoned lad­der, I remembered that recently I walked on CAC Belarusian artists’ road inscribed with small humps and had the pleas­ure to exper­i­ence what shoes with heals wear­ing women exper­i­ence every day, as well as con­text: for example Carolee Schneemann does not avoid observing his body in the con­text of other (social) bod­ies and artist and rock music per­former Kembra Pfahler expressed her protest against con­ser­vat­ive, human needs in soci­ety bind­ing norms… by sow­ing up her labia.

In the triptych’s last, third part of “Sacrifice”, a pain­fully famil­iar story of God’s son is repeated.

It’s like sym­bi­osis of body – art and Christian Iconographic (there is really a blood cry­ing statue of Saint Mary in USA Sacramento, California state). In this per­form­ance, in which Bloody Circus band is also par­ti­cip­at­ing, everything is real: blood, needles, cru­ci­fix­ion and the moment, dur­ing which blood cry­ing Kyrahm attains the sac­ral dimen­sion and ‘Jesus’ becomes a simple mor­tal. It’s an act of wash­ing away all the evil known to man — sick­ness, wars, homo­pho­bia. This work is an oddish trib­ute to HIV infec­ted per­form­ance artist R. Athey and with envir­on­ment pol­lu­tion and homo­pho­bia bat­tling Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens.

Whilst think­ing about the ethic and aes­thetic legit­im­a­tion of such act, about whether a line had not been crossed whilst screw­ing around, I remembered the fam­ous Valie Export and her mas­ter­piece “Remote…remote”.

Blood and milk is a deep in cul­tural con­scious­ness etched image elast­ic­ally rel­at­ive to risk: from one side, because of non­sense forced actions it can gather some danger, signs of dirti­ness (I, myself, heard a story about pus infec­ted and dirty milk in soviet col­lect­ive farms), on the other hand, the act is per­formed con­sciously and with a cer­tain inten­tion (not to infect someone, of course), prob­ably, to reach some pur­ga­tion, also it’s a very self­less, intim­ate act: even scald­ing can be help­less against an infection.

Risk, it’s, prob­ably, what affects us the most. It’s doubt­ful that in face stuck needles could not cause any emo­tion. We are liv­ing in an act­ively viol­ence con­sum­ing soci­ety and we are get­ting more and more tol­er­ant towards it: you won’t impact audi­ence with some not real viol­ence. I think that from a moral point of view such art is sim­ilar to wounded anim­als’ images, painted in Lascaux caves in France, Francisco Guera’s War dis­asters (Los Desastres de la Guera) or a shot to Chris Burden’s arm in an art gallery.

Before the trip­tych, Kyrahm locked her­self in a coffin – canon for thirty hours. Her basic needs were sup­plied by her mother. This act tells about the hustled mis­com­mu­nic­a­tion between a daugh­ter and a mother, at the same time alert­ing about the dangers of clos­ing your­self from other people. The tri­vi­al­ity of com­mu­nic­a­tion is reflec­ted by a dia­logue of these two women:

- Are you dead or just sleeping?

- I’m alive, don’t you hear that I’m breathing?

- I thought – it’s only the wind soughing.

Maybe this per­form­ance tries to show, even if ridicu­lously, that we should tack between the right to pri­vacy and inter – human val­ues very carefully.

How could we sum­mar­ize the work of this artist? We can notice the unavoid­ab­il­ity of an impossible, unstrung, deceit­ful com­mu­nic­a­tion in all of her per­form­ances: by gender dic­tate men and women, dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions and their top­ic­al­it­ies rep­res­ent­ing fam­ily mem­bers and even not look­ing to one another per­son­i­fic­a­tions of the Saints. Every fig­ure rep­res­ents either a joint or a sep­ar­ate – con­trary pole. These are per­form­ances of mono­logues, not dia­logues. On the other hand, the emo­tional rela­tion, human­ity and the sen­sa­tion of the other (maybe even not known to him) is always there. It’s like deeply hid­den but talk­ing to us, with little drops of blood from the cry of wounded souls, tra­gedies of a lost but not giv­ing up man.

You can find more inform­a­tion here.

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