Kembra Pfahler is an artist and rock musician, best known as the painted lead singer of The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, a theatrical death rock band she co-founded in 1990. The band uses music, drawings and films to spread a clear message of love in a beautiful, tsuristic, anti-natural, fearless and happy way to dispel the antiquated notion that there is a hierarchy of artistic mediums. In her art and music, Pfahler follows the philosophy of availabism—making the best of what’s available. This is apparent in the low tech props and homemade costumes the Girls of Karen Black don on stage and which fill Pfahler’s exhibition installations.
“Femlin With Mistletoe”, mixed media on paper, 1997, LeRoy Neiman
In her residency Kembra is working to recreate LeRoy Neiman’s “Femlin” cartoon, using her own created character of Karen Black as the subject. The images created in this style will be used to create a photographic catalog, to be published by Deitch Projects.
“I have always loved the adorable “Femlin” cartoon by LeRoy Neiman that appears without fail monthly in Playboy magazine…and has done so for 50 years. There are similarities with “The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black” costume that I created. The high black boots. Huge black hair. I thought it would be an interesting photo project to work on with my friend and colleague, Andrew Strasser. His photography and use of lighting brings out such incredible detail. I got inspired to set up objects and scenarios and that included the Karen Black outfit, but would hopefully capture the Femlin’s fun spirit and shenanigans.” – Kembra Pfahler
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Andrew Strasser studied technology and integrated media art in 2001, and has since toured his stage visuals, photography, performances and other projects worldwide, often collaborating with his enthusiastic colleagues from college. The aesthetic of Strasser’s work has been informed and influenced by his interpretation of the extreme contrast between Brazil in the 1980’s and popular western culture (akin to the lights of Hollywood movies). Through his latest work in New York City, he has developed his own unique brand, and is pleased to be collaborating with Kembra Pfahler in her residency, ”where her aesthetic, characters and symbolism will be combined with his lighting and photography, playing on the Femlin.”
The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black has toured extensively since the 1990s and has recorded four classic rock albums. In 2006, The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black gave a conceptual concert, entitled Sound of Magic, at Deitch Projects. Recently, the Independent Film Channel produced a special film on the group called I Believe in Halloween. Kembra Pfahler has additionally exhibited in Womanizer at Deitch Projects in 2007, Heaven & Hell, a solo show in Miami during Art Basel 2007, It’s Not Only Rock ‘N’ Roll, Baby! curated by Jerome Sans at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels during the summer of 2008 and in the 2008 Whitney Biennial.
Pfahler’s participation in the Biennial included an installation at the Park Avenue Armory and a live concert entitled Actresstocracy. Deitch Projects published a book on Kembra Pfahler, entitled Beautalism, in celebration of her projects for the Biennial.
The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black: Actresstocracy at Park Avenue Armory, Whitney Biennial, New York, 2008
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