South Australian artist Kate Power was recently named the recipient of the 2017 Helpmann Academy British School at Rome Residency, valued at $20,000. She will embark on the three-month residency starting this month and is looking forward to exploring the architecture, sculpture and lifestyle of the historic city.
Power has had a successful couple of years since graduating from the University of South Australia with a Bachelor of Visual Arts with First Class Honours in 2014. She has exhibited her work locally, nationally and internationally and in 2016 undertook artist residencies in Iceland and New York City.
Power’s practice combines elements of video, performance, textiles, sculpture and installation and focuses on notions of “coexistence and enforced social structures that can complicate the way people relate to one another”.
Kate Power, Found Wanting (excerpt)
During a recent stay in New York, much of Power’s focus was on video work but in Rome she is planning on experimenting more with her sculptural practice. Through her sculpture work, Power is encapsulating a feeling or an emotion that is a result of people interacting.
“I am interested in the unspoken, seemingly insignificant things that are sometimes most telling in our interactions, and also how verbal language quietly probes under our interactions and works on a different level,” she says.
Kate Power, Unknowing
Power is particularly concerned with the part that social constructions like race, class, gender and sexuality play in these interactions and how our similarities and differences can influence the situation. She is interested in the physiological aspect – how our bodies move in reaction to the things we sense from one another – as well as the psychological impact of these interactions.
Power’s work often reflects the awkwardness of this interaction between people. “A lot of my sculptures perform a discomfort – a synch or a squirm or a shrink. I’m interested in how much those things really manipulate us, particularly from a queer feminist point of view,” she says.
Kate Power, Unknowing
There is also an element of humour throughout her work – quite often the uncomfortable exchanges between people are absurd. “The interaction between people is humorous and embarrassing at the same time. Relating to people is inherently difficult; there is so much room for error and amazingness, too.”
During her residency in New York, Power spent a lot of time walking around the city looking at tall buildings, which led her to explore ideas around the space we occupy and how different spaces can affect our behaviour.
“I’m excited to continue thinking about this in Rome,” she says. “I’m interested in looking at the architecture and, in particular, the places for public activities and places for private activities. I’m interested in social behaviour that tries to get away from any kind of vulnerability.”