Stanya Kahn — Ciphers for Ciphers
Once there was a rat who couldn’t make up his mind about anything.
He wandered through tunnels looking left, looking right. Should I go up and see the light? Should I stay down here and not move a muscle? Maybe I’ll sleep. Maybe I’ll see how long I can stay awake. Maybe I’ll go above, run in front of the train. Maybe I’ll eat that donut, drink that spilled beer. Should I go sniff that other guy? Maybe I’ll fight him. Bare my teeth and scratch at his ass. Or I could sleep. In a puddle. Let it freeze over. Pretend I’m hibernating, but forever.
Once there was a snake who said, “Hey man, you’re overthinking that.”
Once there was a butterfly who said, “Fuck it. You only live once.” And a moth who said, “You mean you only live like 20 days.”
Once there was a cat who said, “I don’t even care about the internet. How did all this happen?”
Once there was a bird who said, “I don’t give a shit.” And another one who said, “Oh, sure you do. Allover the goddamn place.”
The ant said, “C’mon baby. I’ve read all these books. Look at me, ready as ever. Let’s get it on.”
Stanya Kahn’s videos and drawings compress actions, images, and words to make poetic jokes, stories, and allegories. Often exploring rhetoric and the making of meaning and its undoing, Kahn’s formal strategies bring agency and failure into dystopic interdependence. Situating language in the foreground of works that are dialectically driven by the demands of the body, Kahn’s work seeks out the visceral pleasures and distresses of disorientation to elicit new ways of “reading.”
Recent exhibitions include Grand Arts, Kansas City, Missouri; Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects; New Museum, New York; University Galleries of the University of Illinois, Normal; Pigna Project Space, Rome; and Cornerhouse, Manchester, United Kingdom. Kahn was a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow in Film/Video and a Artadia Grant Awardee in 2014. All images courtesy of the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects.