Monet Clark: California Girl
A Retrospective Debut

/Monet Clark Look Book series

Monet Clark Look Book

Pictured above: Video stills from the 2011 "Look Book" series: Trimmer, Dakini, Muse

opening reception: Saturday, November 12, 2011, 6-9 pm
on view November 4th - December 17th

Krowswork is very pleased to present Monet Clark: California Girl—A Retrospective Debut featuring two decades of performance/video by Clark in her first solo exhibition. Interested in using art as a vehicle for transmutation for herself as well as her audience, Clark throughout her career has often framed real life events as performance art, presented as video and photographs. These performance works are insistent and seductive, yet this seduction evolves into a durational presence, where, like a word said over and over, it seems to lose its original denotation and a different meaning emerges. This pattern is indeed metonymic of the entire arc of Clark's work and life up till now, showcased in this retrospective exhibition in three distinct stages.

Two video works made in the early 1990s when the artist was newly graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute constitute the first part of the exhibition. In these performances Clark, as both director and performer, exposes herself in ways ostensibly meant to engage the (male) gaze. Yet in each of them there is a built-in revulsion, and the expectation of a purely sensual, one-sided show is soon thwarted. The viewer gets more than they bargained for--instead of just a body, they get a whole person. In one, the 1992 work Convulsive Stripper which begins as a conventional strip tease that gets interrupted by an epileptic attack, Clark even seems to have a prophetic view of a darker period of her life that was to come.

The middle portion of the retrospective presents for the first time pieces made during Clark's decade-long fight against an extreme form of Environmental Illness (EI). These include a four-hour intensive piece entitled 12 Frames of Isolation as well as photographic works documenting her emaciated body during the illness juxtaposed with her healthier form post-recovery (see below). During this time, Clark used art to fight against her sickness but also against the Western medical establishment, whose non-holistic methodology simply cannot adequately address the systemic failures caused by environmental poisoning. With the increasingly prevalence of cases of EI in which someone is life-threateningly allergic to the chemicals and toxic products of normal American households, it is clear that this period of Clark's art represents more than just one woman's story. In the artist's precise conceptual framing, the works address how environmental polluting is affecting human health of millions and make undeniable the assertion that the personal is political.

The most recent group of works, then, provides an aesthetic and energetic catharsis. Titled the "Look Book" series, these bold videos date from 2011 and Clark's full return to artmaking, where she is "coming out" in her newly, emergent, healthy body. Set in austere, yet jewel-like environments, Clark embodies and employs the visual language of the fashion world to perform acts from the sacred to the mundane, creating moving video portraits iconographic of 21st-century California culture. The resultant pieces are sumptuously spare, raw and honest, wickedly humorous, and hold a powerful intimacy, all emanating from this one-of-a-kind California Girl.  

View installation shots of the exhibition here

Watch video excerpt from Look Book: Daikini here:

Please contact Jasmine Moorhead for larger press images or more video clips:


Monet Clark Convulsive Stripper

Still from Convulsive Stripper, 1992


Performances With Friends Monet Clark

Performances with Friends # 1

Poisoning/Phoenix Performance Document