KARAN DEVINE RETURNS #1: WOMEN’S GROUP
I was invited by Mikaela Assolent and Flora Katz, two French curators, to participate in a “feminist working group.” Each invitee was asked to bring an element, prepared beforehand, that is as close as possible to their own area of expertise. The element, such as a text, anecdote, performance, video, object, etc., would be up for discussion according to the conversation format and staging chosen by its presenter. Listening, commenting and contributing would be open; participants would be free to speak spontaneously whenever possible. Each individual would thus be able to negotiate their own contribution to the session.
I decided to bring one of my characters, Karan Devine, and make my contribution to the group by way of an embedded performance. Unlike the other nine members of this particular session at PARMER, Karan Devine, a 28-year old downtown “art star” on the tail-end of severe burnout, is not at all clued into feminism, intellectual affairs of any kind or the liberal arts at all.
Karan Devine sat down, thanked everyone for letting them be a part of her “women and art group,” and then launched into her story, telling them that she had broken up with her long-term boyfriend, Mickey Future (of the post-glam rock-era band Mickey Future and the Presence, active from ’82 to ’92), and had sought refuge recently at the Center for Difficult Womyn, a womyn-only half-way house in the Catskills, at the purported behest of her best friend Indi Warthole, the world’s first and only 24/7 female Andy Warhol impersonator, who had spent some time in rehab there the summer before. Though the environment was occasionally deeply troublesome, Karan had learned the love and companionship of women there, and was looking for something similar back in New York. Karan then demonstrates her “art projects” to the group (holotropic breath work, synonymous to hyperventilating or “pregnancy breathing”; a deafening, guttural scream that she had learned at a mandatory Primal Scream Therapy workshop at the Center; and a cover band—of her ex-boyfriend’s band—called Dickey Future and the Absence, in which Karan gets all of the other members of the feminist working group to sing a very misogynistic refrain with her.
I documented this intervention and later incorporated it into a video, titled, KARAN DEVINE RETURNS #1: WOMEN’S GROUP, from which this embedded performance now takes its name.