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Press Release: Kembra Pfahler, The Manual of Action

Press release





Kembra Pfahler (March, 2024) Photograph by Michael Didyoung © CIRCA


To download the media pack, click here.


(Piccadilly Circus, London) 8 April 2024 ➳ Boldly pursuing their quest to platform and commission new ideas with a collective purpose, CIRCA presents The Manual of Action, a 12-week programme by East Village pillar, performance Queen, punk Imagineer and fashion muse Kembra Pfahler.

Over 12 weeks (8 April – 30 June 2024), Pfahler delves into her subversive approach to creativity with the unique presentation of her autodidactic 12-step programme. Appearing every evening at 20:24 (local time) on Piccadilly Lights and other notable public screens in Milan, Berlin and Seoul, the weekly video classes explore Pfahler’s fearless practice through topics such as Availabism – making use of what’s available – Classism, Perfectionism and Gothletics. Culminating with a Performance Gala (23 June), The Manual of Action signifies a radical attempt to restore people’s potential to become “their own kind of artist”.

Kembra Pfahler says: “Everything we do is part of our artistic practice. There’s no such thing as I’ve got to get to work later. We’re always in process. I want to remind people that everything they do (from their family to scrubbing the dishes) is a meditation in time that is leading us all forward. It’s not about becoming something. We’re already ‘that’ if we want to be. I want The Manual of Action to remind people to celebrate their liminal phases. Celebrate their process and not worry about having an artistic block because I don’t feel like that exists.”

Kembra Pfahler filming ‘The Manual of Action’ in New York (March 2024) Photograph by Jasper Rischen © CIRCA


Embracing the screens at the intersection of classroom and social sculpture, each weekly class will be introduced visually on public screens as 2.5 minute actions – filmed especially for CIRCA at Vivid Kid Studios in New York by Jasper Rischen – and taught verbally by Kembra Pfahler on Zoom. Unfolding through public screenings and online/in-person meetings, Pfahler hopes to build community by integrating her artistic practice into daily life. During Season II, CIRCA will activate a Telegram channel that will act as a forum for the community to engage with the programme through special content and dialogue.

Over 12 weeks, Pfahler will explore the limits of what can be achieved between screen and audience, with an emphasis on presence, dialogue, and participation. Coinciding with the total solar eclipse, ‘The Manual of Action’ inaugurates with WEDDING’, a 10-minute ceremony staged by Pfahler in Piccadilly Circus, on  8 April at 20:00 BST.

Responding to the CIRCA 20:24 Manifesto <<Break Free>> Time’s Arrow Flies Forever Forward, Pfahler embarks on a cathartic journey to examine the boundaries of artistic creation and break free from capitalised and passive routines. Envisioned as a multimedia residency, The Manual of Action culminates with a ticketed Performance Gala, conceived as a collective restitution and final celebration of the collective 12-week journey. As Pfahler suggests, “Being creative is freedom, and sharing what you make is a celebration of that freedom”. Following her nonconformist approach, the programme will feature improvised and unannounced performances, adding unexpected elements that unfold at varying rhythms.

Curated by Josef O’Connor, Pfahler’s intervention for CIRCA 20:24 Season II coincides with the 10th anniversary of Future Feminism, a ground-breaking movement and manifesto co-founded by the artist alongside Anohni and Johanne Constantin that advocated for gender equality and ecology. Rejecting the confines of a traditional artistic path, Pfahler views her art as an extension of life, embracing creativity as a means of radical transformation. “I don’t have a career. I have a life, and it’s fun to share things we learn or discover. That’s where art serves its greatest purpose. What else do we do? War? Make prisons for sick poor people or create shit jobs that don’t pay? Being creative and sharing is a benevolent human trajectory that’s difficult to irradiate even under the most heinous conditions. It lifts the spirits.”


1, 2, 3… I love you‘ butt prints by Kembra Pfahler (£150 +VAT) Hand signed by the artist and screen printed in 3 colours onto Somerset Paper © CIRCA


In support of the 12-week programme, CIRCA releases a limited series of Pfahler’s notorious ‘Sit-Ins’ – 3 layered butt prints envisioned as a wink to say ‘I love you’ by offering a cheeky departure from traditional representations of the female form. Each hand-signed butt print is available to purchase on CIRCA.ART (£150 +VAT) in support of the artist and #CIRCAECONOMY – a circular model that supports the CIRCA free public art programme whilst creating life-changing opportunities for a global creative community.

Josef O’Connor, Founder and Artistic Director of CIRCA, says We’re honoured to present this 12-week contribution to contemporary actionism by one of culture’s most radical catalysts – Kembra Pfahler.  Since its inception, CIRCA has set out to become a space-carving platform, providing artists the possibility to express themselves and allow for their boldest ideas to take form. Through this new commission filmed by Jasper Rischen in New York, we are celebrating an artist whose – still unduly unacknowledged – presence, strength and spirit of experimentalism have been integral in not only shaping the countercultural aesthetics of the Lower East Side but also pushing the boundaries of performance art. A kind of magic that is increasingly necessary in the wake of a strategic approach to art-making that is hooked on likes and commercial art fairs. Following Ai Weiwei’s 81 days spent questioning artificial intelligence (AI) with Pfahler, we return to the body; not only the individual body but also the collective body – the community. We hope ‘The Manual of Action’ re-claims space for art within everyday life and revitalises live performance’s conscious, empathetic and transformative power both on and off the screen.





8 April until 30 June 2024
The Manual of Action appearing every evening at the following times and locations:

London ➳ 20:24 GMT, Piccadilly Lights
Berlin ➳ 20:24 CET, Kurfürstendamm
Milan ➳ 20:24 CET, Cadorna Square
Seoul ➳ 20:24 KST, COEX K-Pop Square

To view the exhibition map, click here.


Kembra Pfahler filming ‘The Manual of Action’ on Piccadilly Lights, London © CIRCA


WEDDING Commit to your ideas: The Manual of Action 8 April
Piccadilly Lights, London
CLASSISM Is there room for a new class? All of us have the right to exist; 9-14 April
All Screens
SELF EXCAVATION Pick a title, pick a date. Then, figure it out 15-21 April
All Screens
LIMINALITY Art and performance is a process. 22-28 April
All Screens
AVAILABISM Make the best use of what’s available. 29 April-5 May
All Screens
VOLCANO  Sharing is not a PowerPoint; it’s an exchange that helps new ideas blossom. 6-12 May
All Screens
*WORKSHOP An in-presence workshop led by Kembra Pfahler. 9 May
Location TBA, London
PERFECTIONISM  Draw a circle with a line through it. 13-19 May
All Screens
GOTHLETICS Movement without having the right outfit. 20-26 May
All Screens
*GOTH DAY SPECIAL #CIRCAECONOMY presentation by emerging artist Angel Rose 22 May
Piccadilly Lights, London
FINDING SOUND Ears have eyes. 27 May-2 June
All Screens
SYNCHRONICITY How to write a song. 3-9 June
All Screens
COLOUR PALETTE Colour, make-up & application. 10-16 June
All Screens
THE SHOW MUST NOT GO ON Art and performance are not the same as show business, baby! 17-23 June
All Screens
*PERFORMANCE GALA A final celebration by Kembra Pfahler and participants of the 12-week programme. 23 June
Location TBA, London
DEADLINE Slow down. A deadline is never the end. 24-30 June
All Screens
Register on CIRCA.ART to access the Live! programme and receive further information, including guest lecturers, in-person happenings, and participatory formats. *Special programme and events



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. Deitch Projects published a book on Kembra Pfahler, Beautalism, in celebration of her projects for the Biennial. She has had shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome, The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, and has shown in solo and group shows at Contemporary Fine Arts, Deitch Projects, The Hole Gallery in New York, Bowman Gallery pop-up Los Angeles, and File under “V” at Kenny Schachter Rove Gallery, in London. Her drawings are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

CIRCA mobilises the world’s greatest creative minds to inspire and unite people through art and culture. For three minutes every evening, the platform, with purpose, pauses adverts across a global network of digital billboard screens and commissions artists to reflect on the world around us, c.2024. A hybrid platform fusing free public art with e-commerce and a circular economy, CIRCA invests in the future of art and culture by selling affordable art that supports a wider ecosystem of artists and institutions and generates income for their collaborating artists. Since launching in October 2020 on London’s iconic Piccadilly Lights, #CIRCAECONOMY has distributed over £700,000 in cash grants, scholarships, and charitable donations.

Previous CIRCA-commissioned artists include Ai Weiwei, Cauleen Smith, Eddie Peake, Anne Imhof, Patti Smith, Tony Cokes, Emma Talbot, Vivienne Westwood, Yoko Ono, Marina Abramović, David Hockney, Cassandra Press, Shirin Neshat, Frank Bowling, Kembra Pfahler, and more. (circa.art)

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