in Frieze New York | 04 MAY 24

Meet Me in New York: Kembra Pfahler

The legendary NYC performance artist—showing at Frieze New York with Emalin—reflects on “anti-naturalism” and “Availablism,” and takes an axe to the wall of her apartment

in Frieze New York | 04 MAY 24
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“I moved to New York in 1979 to change the world,” says Kembra Pfahler from her NYC apartment studio, painted entirely blood red—walls, floors, ceiling, even bathtub. 

Pfahler was an unmistakable figure on the 1980s East Village experimental performance scene: Marina Abramović meets The Cramps, but Pfahler’s practice spans music, film, photography and sculpture as well as performance. As fierce and uncompromising as ever, Pfahler's confrontational feminist persona is inseparable from her oeuvre, whether in rock shows as The Voluptuous Horror Of Karen Black or in her “Cinema of Transgression.”

In this intriguing snapshot of Pfahler’s everyday life, she explains “anti-naturalism” as “a way for me to describe how I interact with urban beauty,” and her practice of “Availabism”—using whatever materials or impulses are at hand—which in this case involves her taking an axe to the walls of her apartment. 

“Harsh times require harsh voices,” says Pfahler. But creativity and beauty, too.

Kembra Pfahler is showing at Frieze New York 2024 with Emalin (stand C05)

Read more about Kembra Pfahler here

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Performance footage: Kembra Pfahler, On the Record / Off the Record, 2021, live-stream performance, with The Girls of Karen Black: Caroline Mills, Alice Moy and Jackie Rivera; ASL Amber Berteloot, Interpret This!; music by The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black: Samoa Moriki, Joe Darkside, Gyda Gash, Benjamin Seacrest, Cornelious Loy, and “The Horror Has Gone” by ANOHNI; video direction, lighting, and live edit, Glen Fogel.