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In the studio: Dawn Kasper

May 15, 2010 |  6:00 am

Dawn Dawn Kasper’s first solo show out of graduate school, at Circus Gallery in 2007, was titled simply “Life and Death,” which gives you some idea of the scope of her inquiry. Working in video, installation and performance primarily, she’s made works exploring “Evil,” “Love” and “Truth.” She’s currently working on a group called the “On” series — as in, “On Forgetting,” “On Religion” “On Existence” — and another she’s dubbed “Clues to the Meaning of Life.”

She is an artist preoccupied, in other words, by the Big Questions, either unwilling or unable to home  in on a more reasonable set of parameters. Her works, as a result, are generally quite messy: materially, thematically, emotionally. They leave stains and scars — sometimes literally; “residue” is a word she uses often — and rarely come to tidy conclusions. The effect for the viewer, however, can be exhilarating.

In conversation as well as in performance — and the line between the two appears none too distinct — Kasper has an eager, frenetic tone, the air of one struggling to get her head around a problem, continually tipping between revelation and bafflement. Thirty-three years old, with short, dark hair, expressive features and the intensity of a natural performer, she speaks as one who has too many thoughts in her head at once.

“I have so many ideas and so many interests,” she says, “always swirling, and a short attention span and, oh my God — overwhelming sometimes.”

To read Holly Myers' article in  Arts & Books, click here.

Photo: The artist in her Koreatown apartment/studio

Credit: Katie Falkenberg/For The Times