Rebecca Kautz: Conflicted Systems






Image 1 : Artist Working: A Year Long Durational Performance on Art, Value, and Caregiving (Digital image document) Optician Appointment, January 1, 2016-January 3, 2017

Image 2: Throwing My Weight Around, Embedded Performance for Video, 2016-2017

Image 3: Sigil, Altered Vhs Documentation of  a 1998 street performance in Chicago, Illinois, (video Still), MP4 Video, 1998-2016 , Run time: 5 min

Image 4 & 5: Erase Hate, public performance action,  MP4 Video (Video Still) 8 min, 2017

Erase Hate Link Here:
Throwing My Weight:

I am a multidisciplinary artist researching sociology, pedagogy and human development.  I explore these themes through the lens of power and gender, revealing conflicted systems of abuse in private contemporary life and echoes in broader society.  My work follows two trajectories, occupying two distinct spaces: one is public advocacy, and the other is a personal and private exploration of these themes.  My socially engaged performance work is conceptual, durational and conceived of through a set of self-imposed limitations.  These “rules” are the parameters for the artistic research and my digital documentation of these performances become the artifact. Meanwhile, the writing and drawing provide a translation  of the psychological effects of the gesture and social experiment.

The domestic scene allows a simulation of broader social hierarchies. I engage archetypal narratives and psychoanalytic explorations while using my own experience as a generative source of image making. The images I draw from are sourced through an autoethnographic lens of my Midwestern, working class life as I ambiguously flip-flop through time periods.  Images in the paintings depict a subject that could be interpreted as my present day self, my childhood self, or of my children.  The people in my paintings are playing with gender and power and rebelling against securely defined roles. The rebel, the witch, the child, the father and the mother, have been roles that I have played as protagonist and supporting character too.  I expose fraught relationships, both interpersonal and social.  The allegories I make are evidence of the lasting psychological effect that our childhood and life events have on our evolving identities. 

My process of art making cycles through a vocabulary of mediums and forms.  Often, and in the case of the collection of works in Green Shag, the visual metaphors and concepts in my two-dimensional work, translate into my physical body.  I am a kinesthetic learner; physical improvisation in the studio is how I “write” my performance work and also how new images for paintings are developed. These images become a mashup of iconography across time, and a breaching of both public and private space.  This rupturing of time and space is a strategy of purposeful maladjustment.  A failure to move forward.  Working on paper, the sensitivity of these issues is echoed by the material. Iconographic references include present day events such as the Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics abuse and the Girl Scouts while trumpets, Peeps, Easter baskets, and cherry pies have personal and cultural implications.  Gold medal flour, which has been a symbol for domestic labor and women in my work since my public street performance Sigil ( Flour Power)(1997) , takes on an expanded sign of systemic sexual abuse in my more recent performance work such as  Green Shag (2018).  Current durational performances include the collaborative, participatory performance called Shame Project (April 2018-Ongoing), and Genius Patch (2018-2019).

Bio: Rebecca Kautz (b.1978 Princeton, IL) is an interdisciplinary artist working in painting/drawing, performance and video.  She has a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Performance, a Master’s of Arts in Educational Leadership and an MFA from The University of Wisconsin-Madison. She incorporates reflective, expository writing and drawing with action based research and social interventions.  The creative process of writing and drawing are often translated into, or from, durational performance works as an attempt to embody and expand on the problem under investigation.  Operating through a feminist lens, her work is related to psychology, sociology and human development. Exhibition record and awards; CICA Museum, Korea (2018); The Ski Club (2018), Portrait Society Gallery (2018), Lakeside Legacy Foundation in Crystal Lake, IL (2015); OFF The WALL at Arts + Literature Lab (2017 & 2016); The Museum of Contemporary Art-Chicago (2001). Presenter at Open Engagement Conference on Socially Engaged Art in Chicago (2017); Publication: Social Art Award from the Berlin based Center for Art & Innovation (2017) and a Publication Fellowship from Peripheral Vision Press (2018).