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Donning an inverted lampshade-turned-hat, artist Katya Grokhovsky emerged for her performance, I want to be (2018) emanating equal parts Nefertiti, Hugo Ball, and Monty Python. Deliberately wobbling in pink heels, she poured water from an elephant-shaped can into two buckets; using a long branch as a yoke she hoisted the weight on her shoulders and strutted toward the audience announcing, “I want to be a bad woman.”
Grokhovsky moved through the space while discussing how to move a sofa without help, curators’ advice to attract buyers by being naked, and the general absence of women in art history. She removed her dress to reveal an undergarment sewn with four-inch udders and squiggly cartoonish pubic hair. In this playful prank, Grokhovsky both suggested and rejected her nudity, mocking, with bawdy humor, the expectation of the nude female. This sentiment was echoed in videos looping in the background, where Grokhovsky wore various masks, a bunny costume, and a hot pink bodysuit.
Throughout the performance her movements were, at times, unrefined and clownish; she squatted and lunged with grunts, stumbled under the weight of the buckets, and posed in exaggerated caricatures of girlishness. Yet, the awkwardness was precise and practiced, suggesting deliberate and studied choreography. The command of her body, spatial relation, and tempo portrayed a contrasting elegance clearly gleaned from a lifetime of dance training.
Near the end, Grokhovsky kicked a roll of white paper, transforming it into a runway. She spilled the buckets over the paper, evoking the Daughters of Dionysus’ mythological punishment for killing their husbands:to spend eternity carrying water in sieved jars. Pulling out a pen, the damaged runway became her sketchpad; the marks were quick, gestural, and bodily. Grokhovsky closed by signing the runway, a physical and intellectual assertion of value that cemented the role of the bad woman, to not only move her own sofa, but to author her own place into history.
Katya Grokhovsky: I want to be was performed February 17, 2018 at The Situation Room (2313 Norwalk Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90041).