Studio Visit with Kate Glasheen
Posted on January 22 2019
We recently were able to go to Kate Glasheen's studio while she worked on her first solo exhibition with the gallery, "Dead Kings." Here's a sneak peek at her newest work:
Lineage, politics, wealth, and timing. It’s an equation that has assigned power throughout human history, and the resulting product elevates one set of bones above the rest in the math of power.
Despite the Dead Kings’ chronological separation from current times, it’s the present political climate that sparked this pursuit. The global punchline that we Americans have become is populated by literal golden toilets and tiger skin rugs. The backdrop to our plummet from international esteem includes trappings that could be confused with the quarters of some detached, cartoon overlord. We make caricatures of the source material, which, as a caricature to begin with, becomes so distorted that the reflection in the fun-house mirror turns it all right again.
The excess is a death cult. It controls those that control the world. Ownership of land, people, and reality never stopped being the ruling class’ accessory of choice despite the bigger picture screaming its throat raw that it needs to stop. To watch this play out without breathing room to abandon our daily routines makes me feel like we’re attending Prince Prospero’s masquerade. Our revelry goes late into the night even as the ice caps melt, and a castle wall can stop the rising tides only as well as it stopped Prospero’s Red Death.
This is a very literal exhibition. As someone who generally works within the conceptually surreal, there’s something attractive about the bluntness of calling this thing exactly what it is. A scientific label over an opinion; an indisputable statement as opposed to a personal interpretation. I’m not asking the viewer to discuss it, I’m dictating the terms like the authoritarians I’m drawing. In a body of work about power, there’s power in the blunt force of a statement of fact.
I focus on leaders from our past to emphasize the repetition of these behaviors throughout the ages and our inability to sever our ties with the roles they create. I begin by researching a culture’s leaders during a specific region and era. Notes are taken and sketches made of the patterns and garb of the time. I treat each field not as cloth to embellish but a crater to fill.
My obsession with detail is, in the case of the Kings, sarcastic. The baroque entangles itself with nihilism in an inauthentic celebration of opulence. The intricacy of the ink is a distraction, a mockery, a cynical representation of those in power, the trivial nature of the trappings in which they sit, and bitterness at how much they would sacrifice to have it.
The bright side is that all of the kings I’ve imagined are dead, and one day all of ours will be, too. Be it by a revolution, or by their own hand as they accelerate us towards planetary annihilation. The point is, is that it doesn’t matter; the point is, is that the end result is the same. We all answer to time, eventually. If the ocean swallows the castle, there is no throne room left. The dirt surrounding a king’s corpse is no different than that which will surround yours or mine. Power is temporary, and time is the only King. -Kate Glasheen
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