Dance Rehearsal: Karen Kilimnik’s World of Ballet and Theatre

March 2 – June 2, 2013

MCA Denver
1485 Delgany St Denver, CO 80202

Dance Rehearsal: Karen Kilimnik’s World of Ballet and Theatre is dedicated to internationally acclaimed American artist Karen Kilimnik’s longstanding engagement with historical theatre, in particular, the Classical and Romantic story ballets of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Emerging in the late-1980s, American artist Karen Kilimnik is a key figure in contemporary art whose work in media ranging from traditional painting to video and live performance has reinvigorated and expanded the lexicon of narrative figuration. She first became known for vignette-littered drawings and sprawling theatrical installation works that reimagine historical figures and times and parallels in contemporary pop culture.

The theatrical has always loomed large in Kilimnik’s work. Historical theatres and stage sets, story ballets and operas as well as famous dancers, pop stars and actors make repeat appearances across widely varying mediums. Archetypal themes drawn from Swan Lake and other legendary works-often spliced with present-day dramas found on-screen and in the news-play out in the artist’s narratives and iconography. Kilimnik’s consuming drive to repeatedly re-envision certain plot lines, images, and motifs relates to the ever-evolving, self-referential nature of the performing arts with its endless variations, renditions and remakes.

Curated by Melissa E. Feldman, Dance Rehearsal features works from 1988 to the present, encompassing all the notoriously diverse styles and mediums in which Kilimnik has worked-from figurative drawing and painting to mixed media mise-en-scéne installations, collage, photography, and video, as well as more recent forays into set and costume design and choreography.

The Mills College Art Museum has published a catalogue in conjunction with the exhibition. Dance Rehearsal: Karen Kilimnik’s World of Ballet and Theatre features over 60 large-scale, full color images of Kilimnik’s work, some of which have never been reproduced before, and includes new scholarship by independent curator Melissa E. Feldman, art critic and frieze co-editor Jörg Heiser, fashion designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte, and dance critic Apollinaire Scherr.

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