fbpx Kembra Pfahler | CIRCA

Kembra Pfahler (b. 1961, Hermosa Beach, CA, US) lives and works in New York, US. Pfahler is a legendary figure of New York’s underground scene. With a practice spanning music, performance, acting, film and visual arts since the 1980s, the image vocabulary she has built informs the countercultural aesthetics of the Lower East Side. Drawing references from monstrous fetishistic femininity and Japanese Noh theatre, she founded a death-rock band, The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black. The band’s cult performances incorporate handmade costumes and props created along the lines of her philosophy of availabism – making use of what’s available – with the aim of fostering a radical view of femininity and beauty. The ceremonial treatment of her body in transgressive acts continues to mark the contemporary cultural landscape through her collaborations in film, photography and fashion.


Circa Commissions

Kembra Pfahler in conversation with Josef O’Connor

The Manual of Action was one of the first things I did in the 80s in New York City. It was the first performance I curated and that I participated in. My greatest hope is that the people coming to see these films and experience the classes will be encouraged to investigate their creativity, as I did. Sometimes it’s difficult to organize your thoughts around performance, drawing and creativity. The Manual of Action is a kind of gentle discipline. It’s a way to help people organize their thoughts and practices daily to help their creativity emerge. I would like people to see creativity as a muscle that needs to be exercised. I believe each of us is creative. I’m not speaking about becoming a famous artist or even becoming an artist, it’s more about teaching people how to give value to their creative thoughts and destitute devaluation. The Manual of Action is me sharing, it is the antithesis of being destructive. I don’t like the idea of ever causing harm in performance. Hurting anyone, hurting myself, hurting others. It’s very important to me that there’s love and caring in performing. Whenever I’m working with young artists who want to move towards some destructive element, I usually encourage them not to perpetuate a negative, romantic, destructive idea of an artist’s life. I think that’s got to be flushed down the commode. I think there’s no room for that right now. The room for being destructive and hateful towards oneself. Life’s already so difficult.

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