Mirren Kessling: Performative Reflections Of Identity At Modern Art Oxford

Mirren Kessling

Modern Art Oxford is currently presenting the final exhibition from Platform 2016, created to support the work of up & coming graduate artists. This is the fifth edition of the annual region-wide project – consisting of a series of consecutive solo exhibitions hosted in Modern Art Oxford’s Project Space, with exhibitions by participating artists – having graduated from Ruskin School of Art at the University of Oxford, Oxford Brookes University, and Reading University in 2016.

The final show in this year’s run is ‘The Body Can Be Made and Remade’ by artist Mirren Kessling, recent graduate of Ruskin School of Art, Oxford. The body and identity is at the very heart of the artist’s work; Kessling presents photographic and video works placing herself in a form of subverted self-portrait. The artist creates unedited, digitally unmanipulated works, often transposing images to create a singular work to effect its reading.

Kessling works across a range of media such as photography, film, and performance, and here the images reflect performative tools for exploring identity, often juxtaposing the artist’s own body with objects and materials such as dust sheets, clay, fabric and paper bags used with transformative effect – the temporal nature of the performative movement frozen in a single gesture – a single still from an action, or a response to an art-historical identity.

Image: Mirren Kessling, The Body Can Be Made and Remade installation view, 2016. Modern Art Oxford. Photo: P A Black © 2016.

The artist’s practice forms a dialectic between Kessling’s identity and works from art history, insinuating recognisable motifs onto the artist’s own form. Kessling’s photographic work ‘The Head’ is a signifier of the particular artifice of pre-revolutionary fashions of Louis XVI, while replacing make-up with a primitive tribal mud. Through this frozen act the artist obfuscates both identity and the temporal history of the work.

Kessling’s images are frozen actions; at once works of art – photographs, videos, collages, even lectures – and artefacts of a performative process. This performative exploration of identity is dealt with a frame at a time; superimposed signifiers of multiple identities – yet timeless in nature – as we project the self through an ever-changing slideshow of a mask on still at a time.

About the artist:
Mirren Kessling is based in Oxfordshire, Kessling completed a foundation course at Oxford Brookes in 2013 and has just received her BFA from the Ruskin School of Art. Kessling has exhibited at the Museum for the History of Science, The Ashmolean Museum, Cube Gallery, Modern Artists Gallery, and as part of the Ruskin Shorts performance event at Modern Art Oxford.

About Platform:
Platform was devised in 2012 in collaboration with the Contemporary Visual Arts Network South East (CVAN) and is a partnership between five galleries; Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth, De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, MK Gallery in Milton Keynes, Turner Contemporary in Margate, and Modern Art Oxford. Each organisation selects graduates from their local universities to participate in the exhibitions and award programme.

Words: Paul Black @Artjourno

Photos: P A Black © 2016

Lead image: Mirren Kessling, The Head, detail, 2016. Modern Art Oxford. Photo: P A Black © 2016

Platform 2016 – Mirren Kessling: The Body Can Be Made and Remade – Modern Art Oxford – until 25 September 2016


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