Before pressing record and shooting herself in close-up, video artist Kate Gilmore sets up a particular challenge for herself—be it busting out of Sheetrock enclosures, climbing out of pits of dirt, or balancing herself on a tall stack of chairs precariously held together with rope—which she knows, even before the film starts rolling, that she may or may not be able to accomplish. With minimal edits, Gilmore’s formally considered videos feel incredibly intimate, but can also be painful to watch, as the camera unflinchingly documents all of her repeated falls and setbacks. Appearing strong but not invincible, she often dons pumps, pencil skirts, and other incongruously “feminine” attire as she throws herself into these strenuous challenges, suggesting an underlying feminist message about the 21st-century female experience.
Gilmore insists that she is not a masochist—when NYFA Current met with her she said this is the biggest misconception about her work—nor is she an endurance artist following in the footsteps of Marina Abramovic. The exercises she creates for her videos are short-lived, and she maintains that her goals are realistic, though difficult. Soon after welcoming us into her studio, the unassuming and down-to-earth Gilmore admitted that she does not know where her work is going next, though her scale and range are surely expanding. Last summer, as part of the Public Art Fund’s In the Public Realm program, she orchestrated a live performance-sculpture in Bryant Park, Walk the Walk, her first piece to employ performers other than herself.