Bessie Kunath: Free Normcore

The works of Kunath challenge how we think about interpretive modes of making as well as theoretical models of knowing. With past bodies of work like "auction items", and "everyday scenery", the fine line between commerce and aesthetic commentary is held in abeyance. But this is not to say that Kunath's work is absent historical references, or that it aims at merely repositioning the mundane. Instead, what we are presented with is a repurposing of the transient elements of culture in a manner that activates a variety of social, material and aesthetic presuppositions.

In Free Normcore, a term that further extends the claims made on behalf of the de-industrialized fashion movement, Kunath brings together a selection of 'free' and found objects for exhibition that have been rejected from commercial trade. By abutting cultural dejecta with programmatic premises, Kunath's works are able to occupy a space between aesthetic interventionism and the anti-aesthetic urge that puts both positions in question. Simultaneously reductive and random, Kunath's chromatic recasting of found materials underscores how notions of value, fragility, and outmodedness can challenge the insularity of interpretation that haunts the hermeneutics of meaning production.

In this way, Kunath's works openly embrace the productivity of ambiguity by lightly effecting found materials, as well as highlighting various forms in an open-ended and provisional manner. Thus, by challenging the rhetorical devices of re-presentation, and making selective interventions in domestic and discarded objects, we find that the threat of overdetermined meaning is constantly decentered by the encounter between artist and object, spectator and object, and culture placed in a broader context. Within the bounds of Kunath's projects however, there remains a subtle hinting at the larger architecture that frames the contemporary art world, given over to us through the use of sculptural objects as a type of edifice that is everywhere implicated in our current culture of disposability. In this way, we can say that ecological and social responsibility are part of the strata of expectations that attend the productivity of the art object, and Kunath's practice as an artist in particular. What is revelatory in Kunath's work however, is how the substrate of the common object can become a language that signs the present moment in a myriad of unpredictable and unforeseen ways, making a piece of cast-off commerce into a morphological experience of collected meanings that are as prescient as they are untimely.  

Bio: Bessie Kunath lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. She holds an M.F.A. in Studio Art from University of California Santa Barbara and B.A. in Art and Education from the University of San Francisco. Kunath has actively participated in exhibitions in San Francisco, Orange County and Los Angeles. Kunath has been curating art exhibitions as well since 2005 and is a member of LA-based collective, Manual History Machines. 

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