Kembra Pfahler at Emalin / London


Nov. 16 – Dec. 21, 2016

Unit 4 Huntingdon Estate
London E1 6JU

Courtesy of the artist and Emalin.
Photography by Damian Griffiths, Manuela Barczewski and Kim Jakobsen To

Emalin is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of new and historic works
by the American performance artist, filmmaker, and musician Kembra
Pfahler. For her first exhibition at Emalin, the artist follows the
philosophy of availabism – making the best of what’s available – to bring
together a range of objects in an installation that replicates her iconic
apartment in New York City. The ‘tile-red’ space includes works by Bruce
LaBruce, Katrina Del Mar, Mike Diana, Laure Leber, Relic Stones from
Future Feminism, Richard Kern, Samoa, Scott Ewalt, and Shove Mink AKA

Kembra will be staging a performance with The Voluptuous Horror of
Karen Black during the private view on Tuesday, November 15th, 6-9pm.
An evening of rare film screenings selected by the artist will take place at
the gallery on Thursday, November 17th, 9:30 – 11:30pm.

Kembra Pfahler was born in Hermosa Beach, California in 1961, and she
lives and works in New York City. Major solo exhibitions include Fuck
Island, Participant Inc. (New York, NY, USA, 2012); File Under ‘V’, Rove
Gallery (London, UK, 2005); Availabism and Anti-naturalism: A Feminine
Experiment, American Fine Arts Company (New York, NY, USA, 2002);
and Riddle of the Sphinx, Deitch Projects (New York, NY, USA 2002).
Selected group exhibitions include Future Feminism, The Hole (New York,
NY, USA , 2014); New York Minute, Garage Center for Contemporary Art
(Moscow, RU, 2011) traveling to MACRO Museum (Rome, IT, 2011); Dead
Flowers, Vox Populi (Philadelphia, PA, USA, 2010); and Whitney Biennial,
Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY, USA, 2008). 

I wanted to share with London a show called capital improvements. It means that
when you‘ve got a living situation that‘s managed by a landlord, they improve your life
by giving you shiny new appliances, they cover your old walls with new white perfect
surfaces. They redesign your living space to homogenize it and then are able to raise
your rent from 600 dollars to up to 5 thousand dollars. This was the situation in my
building as it was repurchased by a new landlord a few years ago, he‘s not uncool, he
just is a businessman who wants for some reason to make money in a neighborhood
that was largely salvaged by artists since the 60s. We fought for heat, for water, for
safe conditions. Yes we were gentrifiers as well when we arrived in the late 70s but we
still were part of the semi middle class. The semi lower middle class that no longer is
able to exist in New York City any longer. The rents rose but it was still manageable for
young artists well into the 80s. This is a long complex history but what happened to me
was I refused capital improvement in my home when offered. I love the wabi-sabi… the
beautiful decay and imperfection of my home. The design elements in the house have
been lauded by many and I wanted to share parts of this space with you here at Emalin
gallery, the tile red and the objects that are here represent 30 years of struggle and
dreaming up a vocabulary of images that later became known as „the manual of action“
more specifically the availabist manual of action. Availabism is a term I developed which
makes the best use of what is available. 
I always loved the last scene in „Planet of the Apes“ where Charlton Heston realizes the
world as he knew it no longer exists. That he thought he‘d been lost, on another planet,
but didn‘t actually realize he‘d been home all along. More and more the city…All of our
cities are losing their identities by way of financial racism and globalization and by
changing the look of something, by way of chicly redecorating it changes, its value. I
told my landlord I loved the way my apartment looked and didn‘t need a capital
improvement. In fact, my idea of a capital improvement would be to spray paint the
Statue of Liberty black and have it hold a pentagram. A symbol to me that‘s not
indicative of a sky god religion. You know the sci-fi religions that have always been
cringe-worthy to me with their misogynist undertones. But I’m saying a lot clearly…
and believe me I‘m aware that I‘m not saying it perfectly and we all know the awkward
failures of artists who try to speak on politics with a desire to change the world, it‘s a
kind of optimism I realize. That doesn‘t suit many… but I imagined that if I could change
the environment I lived in and express myself through interdisciplinary art and live in an
immersive anti-naturalist severe dwelling that was transformed by me from the floor up.
Tore up from the floor up. It could somehow have a contagious effect on those that
experienced it… this work actually. My studio is the brain and the work born of it, the
body. I fought for years to remain here and they still of course want me out. They want
us all out. I‘m not exaggerating this my English friends as I know it‘s happening to you
all as well. This show shares with you the space where I created the tools to express
my views, thoughts and feelings, there were movements born in this place. „Extremism”
„beautilism“ „anti-naturalism“ „availabism“… I have been able to live a contrarian type of
existence here… an alternative type of life style… one that seems to be viewed as a
rarity these days, which is why I think so many people come in and want to photograph
my apartment all the time now. It‘s a place I have fought so hard to keep, and instead of
crying at the sight of a damaged ruined blown to shreds statue of Liberty like Charlton
Heston and instead of crying and saying „what have we done,“ I want to get doodled up
and stand next to it. I know I have to take responsibility for being a part of it… but I
want to say „what can we do“ of course and spray it black. Can we change the ending
of this horror film we are in? Does this have anything at all to do? with my art exhibit at
Emalin? I‘ll let Emalin explain this to you all as well. But I‘ll keep writing everyday these
things for you all until I get there and have the show at Emalin gallery on November 15.
Kp NYC, October 29th