Katy Hundertmark: 'The title refers to the subtle motions that mark us as humans'
- Mayanne Soret
- 15 August 2018
Glasgow artist Katy Hundertmark discusses her recent exhibition at DOK Artist Space
For her first solo show in Edinburgh, Glasgow-based artist Katy Hundertmark created a new work in response to the Scottish coast and the proximity of DOK Artist Space to the sea. The exhibition combined photography, sculpture and performance, with performers (including Hundertmark herself) dressed in custom-made garments, screen-printed with photographs of stones the artist collected from the West coast of Scotland. These same stones were then placed around DOK's exhibition space, framing and punctuating a performance on the opening night.
To start with, tell me about how you first came to photography, and to performance? And when did you decide to unite them?
KH: Photography has been a very constant part of my life since my childhood. Camera equipment would always be lying around our homes, and D-I-Y darkrooms would pop up in storage cupboards every now and then. My mother, who is a photographer herself, would spend hours considering light situations and point them out to me. Basically, I was exposed to photography long before I picked up a camera myself. My interest in performance however developed later through dance and theatre. I am very fascinated by the idea of slipping in and out of different roles. The first time I combined photography and performance was in 2012, when I moved into my late grandmother's old farmhouse and photographed myself wearing her clothes.
How did you transition from performing for the camera, to incorporating photography as a material of your performance, as you did in Trembling?
KH: The transition began after I started a postgraduate degree at the Glasgow School of Art a few years ago. Sharing the studio space with artists from different disciplines made me reconsider the way in which I understand space and started a search for new ways of translating photographs into the gallery or stage environments. I began printing on fabrics and making clothes that I could physically 'slip into', which gave the idea of inhabiting a photograph a whole new meaning.
I love the idea that your first experience with performance was putting on your late grandmothers' clothes. Trembling centres on the costumes Chevon Fashion Design tailored specifically for you. Do you consider clothes to be inherent to your performances?
KH: Yes, you could definitely say that I use clothes as a way of relating to a subject. To me clothes contain a lot of anthropological information and memory that can change the way in which you move, interact or hold yourself. The garments that were used for Trembling transformed into sculptural material after the performance, containing the memory of our performative intervention.
I'm really interested in this collective aspect of your work: you took the picture, Debbie Young from Studio Mama helped you print them on fabric, then Chevon Fashion Design created the costumes, and finally, you had artists Clarinda Tse and Nastja Nikolskaya perform for you on the opening night.
KH: In recent years my working process has adapted increasingly to that of productions. The progression from my initial idea to the end result is divided into a number of different stages and collaborations.
I know you have done a lot of research on the steel shed - the DOK building, and considered it when creating the piece. What was the result of your research? A remnant of an important part of Leith's history, a place that holds memory, and continues to create it through its newfound role as an artist space, with studios and exhibitions.
KH: Trembling looks at the relationship between the body and still images across space and extended duration and it is the state of flux, which interested me when looking at the history of the steel shed. Built during World War II, when the area hosted the Henry Robb shipyards the building was constructed in the same way as a traditional riveted ship to resist bomb impact and weather forces. Nonetheless the building was re-located to its current position and it is this tension between movement and stillness that I tried to interlace in the choreographic score of the performance by including poses that imply but don ́t exercise movement. The title refers to the subtle motions that mark us as humans; chest rise and fall, eyelids flutter and weights shift - movement that you can ́t avoid even when holding still. The main score for my performers was to hold still until you start to tremble.