Walking on Coals, er...Sunshine

Video, performance, and installation artist Kate Gilmore often draws on pop culture and musical lyrics to frame her work. We think, then, that she might not mind our saying that the elaborate, yet beautifully and sophisticatedly straightforward challenges she designs for herself might best be described by reciting the first words of the theme song for perpetually syndicated sitcom, Cheers: "Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got." This melancholy refrain is the perfect truism against which to witness Gilmore's physical testimony to the facts that life is hard, the life of an artist is hard, and the life of a female artist is, well... hard. But of course, Gilmore manages to make clear--in a way that channels Valie Export as much as Charlie Chaplin--that there's no reason that one can't have fun climbing whatever furniture piles life may throw in one's way. In fact, if one dolls themselves up in slick satins and slathers themselves in the lipstick befitting a lady, then snaking one's way through the kinds of trap doors and tumultuous tunnels the artist creates in her work is nearly a piece of cake--not that she doesn't put a pot of elbow grease into conquering every such obstacle. On September 5th, Philadelphia's Institute for Contemporary Art will open a solo exhibition of Gilmore's work. It will survey previous projects and present a new entry to this trademark series in which installation, performance, and video documentation commingle. - Marisa Olson

Image: Kate Gilmore, Every Girl Loves Pink, 2006, Video