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A Dark Place of Dreams: Q & A with Artist Kate Gilmore

May 31, 2018 // by Caitlin Swindell

Kate Gilmore's work has been exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the 2010 Whitney Biennial, MoMA/PS1 Contemporary Arts Center, and now MOCA Jacksonville.  Kate Gilmore's site-specific based performance and video, It Needs Louise, is part of MOCA Jacksonville's A Dark Place of Dreams, on view from April 28 - September 9.  

Kate Gilmore Blog Profile
Photo by Joe Fig.


In Kate Gilmore's physically demanding performance-based sculptures, she often casts herself as the lead protagonist. Each work is recorded either privately in her studio or on site, attempted only once, and never rehearsed.  Many of Gilmore's performances incorporate significant movement of the body as she dips materials into paint, breaks or moves props, sometimes exploding paint and clay onto shelves, walls, and the floor. In addition to the final artwork, the documentation of the performance is significant for Gilmore as well. Seeing Gilmore move in and out of frame, diligently transforming the space, becomes central to the viewers' experience of the work. It Needs Louise runs for 1 hour 10 minutes, and the entirety of the video is on view alongside the installation.  

A Dark Place of Dreams Kate Gilmore Q&A
© KATE GILMORE, It Needs Louise, 2018. Wood and paint, 93 x 143 x 84 inches. Courtesy of the artist and David Castillo Gallery. Photo by Michael LeGrand.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. When did you first begin making art?

I started making art seriously in college, and mostly worked with ceramics, plaster, and wood. These are materials I still use-just very differently.

How has the work of Louise Nevelson influenced your artistic practice?

My grandmother had Louise Nevelson posters in her house in Portland, Maine. Nevelson's work has been with me since I can remember. Her gathering of materials, assembling them with great meaning, and then coating them to make them singular are things I think about a lot in my practice.

How did It Needs Louise  develop? 

Jaime and I started talking about doing a piece together for the show. Knowing Nevelson's work quite well, I wanted to make a piece that dealt with making a singular entity that still had her quality of mass-lots of things brought together for a whole. I worked with the museum to design the piece and we figured out what was possible and then-the rest is history!

A Dark Place of Dreams Kate Gilmore QA
© KATE GILMORE, It Needs Louise, 2018. Wood and paint, 93 x 143 x 84 inches. Courtesy of the artist and David Castillo Gallery. Photo by Michael LeGrand.

How is color important to this performance and the overall work?

Color is always important in my work. I use it as a way to create a mood, speak to a specific identity, and make something beautiful that people feel they can engage with.  

Louise Nevelson often described her sculptures as “environments.” Do you also find the spaces within which you perform to be environments or something completely different?

They are environments that existed for this particular moment. After the moment of action is complete, they become something entirely different. They become sculpture and speak to the history of the action.




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