The Powers + Sharmi Basu
In their web TV series, “Sistership TV,” multimedia performance art trio and research group The Powers envision a world inhabited by animal kin and monstrous creatures, haunted by other-dimensional entities, and erupting with the repressed archetypes of classical myth. Through the media of video, music, story-telling, dance, and ritualistic performance, The Powers present a performance that is both absurd, irreverent, and terrifying, drawing inspiration from mythological trinities of sisters and reconfigurations of hetero-patriarchal myths. The Powers consists of scholar, psychoanalytic therapist, and musician Katherine Kline, Brooklyn/Montreal painter and mixed-media artist Jessica Mensch, and Canada-based artist and filmmaker Emily Pelstring. Sharing the bill is Oakland-based artist Sharmi Basu, who explores themes of vulnerability, accountability, and experiences of millennial diaspora in their electronic and multimedia performances.
This event is part of Digital Alchemy, a series of performances and discussions exploring the intertwined intellectual and ideological histories of art and technology. For admission to the full series, become a member and pick up the Digital Alchemy All-Access Pass.
The Powers is at once a band, an artistic collaboration, and a research group committed to weaving alternate realities through video, music, story-telling, dance, and ritualistic performance. The Powers create a speculative reality that is absurd, irreverent and terrifying, inhabited by animal kin and monstrous creatures, haunted by other-dimensional entities, and erupting with the repressed archetypes of classical myth. In this world, The Powers foster dynamic relationships with all sorts of beings–earthly, embodied, and otherwise. They invoke a pantheon of characters and deities, and include them in feminist reconfigurations of hetero-patriarchal myths. They draw inspiration from mythological trinities of sisters such as the Graeae, the Gorgons, and the Fates, and recast these icons in chaotic media events. Their 4-episode web series, “Sistership TV”, explores various topics including the cyborg, telepresence, hysteria, the seance, witchcraft, and animal communication.
Beast Nest is Sharmi’s primary performing project. She utilizes an unwavering depression and restrained horror to channel left-eyed spirits. While simultaneously clearing and entering, the sewage pipes of the body and the patriarchy congeal into watery soundscapes as a vehicle for achieving liberation through the darkest of fears.
Sharmi Basu is a multi-media performance artist, curator, and composer. She creates work that addresses vulnerability, accountability, and experiences of millennial diaspora through creating narratives of decolonial thinking toward individual and collective liberation. Her performances and sound pieces show us that the abstract and immaterial experiences of trauma and pain can be liberated through our abstract creations in art and sound. She believes that transcending the emotional landscape is the key to accessing the multidimensionality, and works with these ideas in her Decolonizing Sound workshops and her improvisation group, the Mara Performance Collective. She hosts a number of workshops that center on sound healing and self-accountability, as well as technical skill-shares. She is also a certified mediator focused on interpersonal healing within Queer and Trans BIPOC communities. Her ultimate goal through her work is to cultivate a sense of vulnerability and empowerment for herself and her community.
About The Powers
The Powers is Katherine Kline, Jessica Mensch, and Emily Pelstring.
Katherine Kline is a scholarly researcher, psychoanalytic therapist and musician. Through her music, she creates a messy seance with tape, synth and field recordings of psychic channeling sessions. Non-physical energies and entities, translated into speech via the human medium, are reworked and channeled through machines. Kline is one third of The Powers, half of The Puds, and collaborates with Montreal artist Leyla Majeri. Academically, Kline is interested in the meeting of psychic and material fields, material and immaterial dimensions, psyche and senses. Her research looks at the question of the psychoanalytic unconscious in ecological theory. In particular, she asks what a theory of human narcissism might bring to ecological ethics, and how psychoanalytic praxes might be challenged and enriched by materialist work. Current research focuses on psychoanalytic field theory, the techniques and metapsychology of Wilhelm Reich, and she also studies human relationship with non-human entities of all kinds via practices of channeling and mediumship.
Jessica Mensch is a Brooklyn/Montreal painter and mixed-media artist currently pursuing an MFA at Hunter College in New York, NY. Mensch received her BFA in Painting from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and has gone on to exhibit at such institutions as The Judith & Norman ALIX Art Gallery (Ontario), The Confederation Centre (PEI), PDA Projects (Ontario), The National Gallery of Canada (Ontario), Art Toronto, Superchief Gallery (NY) and Pop Up Gallery PS1 MoMA (NY). Mensch was the recipient of a Canada Council Grant for Visual Arts in 2014, and a finalist for the RBC Painting Prize in 2013. She has participated in residencies at Extrapool (Nijmegen, Holland), The Banff Centre, Studio XX (Montreal) and Saw Video (Ottawa) and the FOFA Gallery in Montreal, Quebec. Mensch often works collaboratively with animator and media artist Emily Pelstring under the pseudonym Inflatable Deities. Their work encompasses video, music, performance and installation. She is also a member of the multimedia performance group, The Powers.
Emily Pelstring is an artist and filmmaker based in Canada. Emily is full-time faculty in the Department of Film and Media at Queen’s University, and her creative work has been supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Canada Council for the Arts. Her films, performances and installations have been shown internationally in galleries and festivals. In her single-channel animations, she experiments with optical filtering and textural effects by processing images through analog video effects units, as well as weirder and more convoluted means of image manipulation. Her installations have employed holography, stereography, animated Pepper’s Ghost displays, and projection-mapped video, in conjunction with built material elements. These pieces reference magic shows and the occult, and draw links between spirituality, wonder, and illusion. Emily also has a longstanding investment in the creative strategies of feminist media art, particularly practices of reclaimative myth-making, collaboration and collectivity, speculative futurisms, and the use of camp aesthetics. These interests have led her to build collaboratively-produced bodies of work, most notably with Inflatable Deities, an artistic duo with Jessica Mensch, and more recently with The Powers: a music, performance, and video collaboration with Jessica Mensch and Katherine Kline.