May 13, 2019
Multi-disciplinary Kathy Acker exhibit comes to London
by Ryan Harrington
London’s Institute of Contemporary Art is now hosting the UK’s first exhibition dedicated to Kathy Acker. The show is amazingly titled I, I, I, I, I, I, I, Kathy Acker, and you can catch it any time from now through August 4, 2019.
According to the Museum’s exhibition page:
This polyvocal and expansive project combines an exhibition with a programme of performances, screenings and talks. The exhibition is structured around fragments of Acker’s writing, which serve as catalysts for a network of interconnected materials presented around them, including works by other artists and writers, video and audio documentation of Acker’s performative appearances in various cultural and media contexts, and documents and books from her personal archive.
And it goes on to explain:
For Acker, the use of the first-person singular was, in fact, plural, as she utilised the ‘I’ in her writing to inhabit different identities from her own life, fiction and history, acknowledging her complicated relationships with family, friends and lovers. From her first novels—which were episodically distributed by mail and written under the pseudonym ‘The Black Tarantula’—the performance of identity remained integral to Acker’s work. This performative relationship to the self was central to her creative strategies as she expanded her writing practice to include readings, performances, plays, screenplays, and collaborations with artists and musicians; fashioned a distinctive public image across different media contexts; and engaged ‘the language of the body’ through tattoos, piercings and bodybuilding.
Indeed, Acker is a particularly fascinating writer to consider through her own words precisely because of how complex and evolving her sense of The Self was. Which is probably why we published a whole volume of Acker on Acker for our Last Interview Series.
You can also check out an extra interview from that volume which had to be cut for length.
Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.