Katie Hare likes girls, she also likes pop culture and punk practices. The London born (1987) and based artist, who graduated from Central St Martins last year, works predominantly in video and installation, “I don’t know if it’s being a product of my generation but I really respond to the moving image.” Hare suggests. “Its a very immediate way to convey a concept.” Immediacy is important to Hare’s work and her lo-fi aesthetic, so is youth culture and domesticity. “I’m interested in portraying my own generation and experience.”
Hare’s work is never hectoring or campaigning, but it is impossible to not see the political in it. Through her videos Hare consistently negates the prevailing images and functions of young women in film and popular culture. Part of her practice is to isolate dialogue from well-known horror movies or youth orientated TV series and use it as the script for her own films.
…reading from some of the more gratuitous scenes…
In Saw Girls Hare filmed young women sat in their bedrooms reading from some of the more gratuitous scenes from the 2004 torture-horror film Saw. The girls in Hare’s film are comfortable in their home environments and read naturally, bringing out the ridiculousness of the extreme violence in the film.
It’s easy to see the feminist agenda in Saw Girls and Hare is creatively engaged with feminism, albeit from a personal and autobiographical position. “I think I’m just trying to portray myself in the context of pop culture. Pop culture doesn’t really portray stillness, or the kind of defiant calmness that I like the women in my work to have – it probably is a reaction to the representation of women, which is generally totally over the top caricatures.”
…an homage to the independent press that originally populised the Riot Grrrl scene…
Hare’s latest undertaking, Calculated, a three day event produced for The Rupture Series exhibition programme is again concerned with young women in pop culture. Calculated is a video installation and sound piece based on the riot grrrl band Heavens to Betsy‘s album of the same name. A single monitor plays Internet sourced footage of the only Heaven’s to Betsy gig to be recorded, while a separate sound track of the album plays loudly in the room. A zine also called Calculated is available to take, which is both an homage to the independent press that originally populised the Riot Grrrl scene and an explanation of it to people without a past as a feminist teenage rebel.
Riot grrrl, was a movement that took off in the early 1990s of girl lead and girl centric musicians, fanzine writers and activists. The music made by Heavens To Betsy, and others, was rough, shouty, punk music that vocalised frustration and anger with the abuses of patriarchal society and Western culture. But alongside the outrage, riot grrrl was characterised by a sense of unity and collectivity. Riot grrrls across Europe and America got in contact through making tapes and fanzines and posting them to each other.
Hare’s muted style fits perfectly into this kind of nostalgia…
Though the early 1990s is recent history, the technological changes since then can mean that looking at the art work and zines produced then can be like looking at period pieces. Hare’s muted style fits perfectly into this kind of nostalgia for the recent past and her installation and accompanying zine is in homage to it. “I’ve really enjoyed creating the Calculated project as I like the thought of presenting a ‘cultural artefact’ that many people wouldn’t be familiar with and that I think there was loads of potential in creating a zine to provide background to the work – I like that sort of performative touch, really getting in the spirit of the album and riot grrrl genre.”
Katie Hare’s work is simultaneously fun and reflective, she offers a humorous approach to issues of gender politics in a cultural climate that is not always hospitable to feminism in it’s more radical and abrasive incarnations. But she is also not ‘on message’ with a dogmatic agenda. “I’d be happy if certain people, especially within my generation felt a real tug of recognition, though obviously I’m not intending my work to only be for one small group of people who are like me! I’d hope my affection for my subjects and my excitement comes across.”
Calculated runs at The Old Deptford Police Station from 14-16 October.
Images courtesy of Katie Hare