Karen Kilimnik‘s multimedia and multidisciplinary repertoire, although eclectic, has recurring motifs of pop and consumer cultures, with portraits of Paris Hilton, Hugh Grant, and Leonardo DiCaprio encompassing some of her best-known work. But Kilimnik has delved into other facets of art, including immersive installations that use elements of the spiritual and occult, while always maintaining the sharp wit that has made her stand out in the art world. We emailed the artist and passionate environmental advocate to discuss the happiness of food, finding spirituality in walking, and abolishing GMOs once and for all.
NeueJournal: Do you find that the work you create is part of an ongoing conversation, or do you feel that each exhibition stands independently from your past work?
Karen Kilimnik: I don’t know. Probably more the ongoing kind, but both.
NJ: Do you engage in spiritual practices daily?
KK: I try to go for a walk every day and look at the trees and the sky and the birds – does that count? I have to say, I’m not into religion at all – although I totally love the paintings, sculptures, music, and architecture of Rococo and Baroque churches! A big thank you to the church for that! And I have always loved anything to do with witchcraft and druids and ancient Egypt, too. I also love to go to ballet class and listen to my favorite ballet music. I love Pugni, Minkus, Drigo and lots of others composers.
hunt for the dinner feast – in the forest with garlands & bow decor 2016 Water soluble oil color and glitter on canvas 16 x 20 inches (40.6 x 50.8 cm) Signed, titled, and dated verso KK 4226 © Karen Kilimnik, courtesy 303 Gallery, New York
NJ: What do you think is the most imperative environmental issue that we have to attend to at large?
KK: So glad you asked. GMOS! We must ban them, because labeling is not enough. Have you seen how they want to label them in the U.S.?! With barcodes that you need a cell phone for! Plus the U.S. labels don’t include whether the animals were fed GMOs, and they don’t list exactly which ingredients are GMO, as they do in Europe, Japan, and other countries; it just says ‘may be produced with genetic engineering.’
There is no such thing as coexistence between GMOs and organic farming, because GMOs spread and contaminate everything else. The glyphosate is now in our rainwater, soil, and air. We must ban glyphosate and chemical farming and stop the monoculture GMO agribusiness. Who eats fields of soybean and corn?! Also organic raw milk (unpasteurized, non homogenized) should be available everywhere – in fact, all milk should be raw, otherwise it’s bad for your health.
GMOs are solely for the profit of the chemical companies and nothing else. We must stop all subsidies to GMOs commodity crops and instead subsidize organic farming and keep corporation out of the organic standards board.
NJ: What can people do to become more educated about environmental issues?
KK: Look up and join the Cornucopia Institute – keeping organics organic! Also read Cows Save the Planet; Grass, Soil, Hope; Altered Genes, Twisted Truth with a foreword by Jane Goodall; and Prince Charles’ book, Harmony – he’s against GMOs too. Read about the Savory Institute and how global warming can be reversed in a few years by rebuilding the soil through organic farming and grazing. Also human population control.
There is one organization I really like working with to keep small farms in Poland from the takeover of corporate chemical and GMO farming: ICPPC – International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside.
NJ: If you were a supernatural being, what would you be?
KK: I guess I would be a fairy.
the goddesses Artemis & Ceres return to their niches to sleep after a hard day’s work 2016 Water soluble oil color and glitter on canvas 16 x 20 inches (40.6 x 50.8 cm) Signed, titled, and dated verso KK 4232 © Karen Kilimnik, courtesy 303 Gallery, New York
NJ: What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
KK: Probably unwanted noise, though given more time I could think of others.
NJ: When and where are you at your happiest?
KK: I am generally very happy, especially around food.
Featured Artwork: “going off to the Battle” tapestry – off to a glittering start 2015 Water soluble oil color and glitter on canvas 16 1/4 x 20 inches (41.3 x 50.8 cm) Signed, titled and dated verso KK 4163 by Karen Kilimnik courtesy of 303 Gallery
Homepage Artwork: Neptune’s grotto theater 2015 Water soluble oil color on canvas 14 1/8 x 18 inches (35.9 x 45.7 cm) Signed, titled and dated verso KK 4170 by Karen Kilimnik courtesy of 303 Gallery