Needless to say, this project probably isn’t what Claude Monet had in mind when the great Impressionist spent decades documenting the changing weather and seasons of Giverny. Artists E.V. Day and Kembra Pfahler have taken over Monet’s famous gardens for this collaborative series of photos that mix the formal beauty of Giverny with something a little more punk rock.
E.V. Day, a feminist installation artist and photographer, was awarded the 2010 Munn Artist Residency by the Versailles Foundation, which allowed her to live on Monet’s Giverny estate for a year. In August, she invited performance artist and member of the glam-punk band The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black Kembra Pfahler to pay her a visit at the gardens. The resulting photos feature Pfahler’s signature performance costume (inspired by Playboy’s mini-women “Femlin” characters) and Day’s refractive photography, turning the gardens into semi-symmetrical, surreal compositions.
Some of the shots are iconic views of the gardens, familiar from Monet’s canvases. Others expose a different side of Giverny, showing Pfahler, her skin painted bright red, pushing wheelbarrows full of trimmed plants or wandering among plant beds that nurture fragile blooms. Day was inspired by her shadowing of the garden’s maintainers, who cut back overgrowth and replace the annual plants that die each year. The artist links these processes to female fertility and sexuality.
The photos will be debuting at New York’s The Hole gallery, alongside an immersive installation replicating Giverny. Hole director Kathy Grayson‘s Art From Behind blog has a few photos of the gallery installation under construction, including a certain immediately recognizable foot bridge. The exhibition opens March 30.
— Kyle Chayka