Video Artwork Reimagines the American Dream for the Modern Era Through Pop Culture, Camp, and Fantasy

Times Square Arts, the largest public platform for contemporary performance and visual arts, is pleased to present American Gurl by multi-hyphenate artist and performer Kilo Kish for the entire month of October as part of the organization’s signature Midnight Moment series. American Gurl is presented in collaboration with Womxn in Windows.

Midnight Moment is the world’s largest, longest-running digital art exhibition, synchronized on over 90 electronic billboards throughout Times Square nightly from 11:57pm to midnight. This year, Times Square Arts is celebrating the ten year anniversary of the Midnight Moment series with a roster of all women artists until April 2023.

Kish’s American Gurl is a video work that merges pop culture, camp, and fantasy to bring a new kind of Americana to Times Square. The artist centers herself within conventional ideas of the American Dream in order to reimagine what a more inclusive version of that dream could look like. American Gurlcreates a visual bridge between the past and the expansive future, utilizing the persuasive powers of art and consumerism in the center of Times Square.

“With these pieces, I am interested in exploring how we can reimagine the American dream to include women of color along with our hopes and desires. These moving images represent the intersection of our past and present, exploring new ways of dreaming through their fusion,” said Kilo Kish.

American Gurl was created using the artist’s personal collection of vintage travel postcards that were then collaged into animated vignettes featuring backdrops of quintessential American tourist stops ranging from farmhouses, to iconic bridges, to resorts, to airways. Central to each composition is Kish herself, resulting in a series of moving selfies that rework space and time into a dreamland complete with multiple costume changes and props such as ice cream cones and feathered fans.

Within the fantastical atmosphere of this work lies a questioning of one’s relationship with success and power. The campiness of the video selfies in American Gurl highlight the collective desire, or dream, of achieving success and status through virality. By challenging our want for power and popularity through her use of fantasy, Kish questions what the future of the American Dream looks like in the digital age.

American Gurl works to subvert our traditional ideas of the American Dream and reimagines them for the future. Kish’s work creates a more inclusive dream that embodies “wish-you-were-here” vibes all while questioning our relationship with status and power.

There will also be a live performance on October 14 from 11:00pm–12:00am in Times Square featuring visual art, music, and dance. See full event details below.

Live Performances by Kilo Kish, Ray Brady, Morgan Amirah Burns & Urban Word NYC
Times Square

Friday, October 14, 2022 | 11:00pm – 12:00am

A live performance which expands on the ideas in American Gurl through movement and spoken word. The evening will feature a 3-part piece by Kilo Kish and music producer and composer, Ray Brady, and a dance collaboration with Morgan Amirah Burns (currently a grant recipient of the Merce Cunningham Trust). The evening will start with spoken word performances by girls from Urban Word NYC. Urban Word champions, centers, elevates young marginalized voices as leaders at the intersection of the literary arts and civic engagement. The event has been curated by Zehra Ahmed + Kilo Kish.

Kish Robinson (Kilo Kish) is an interdisciplinary artist and performer working in music, film, installation, performance, and the written word. Musically, she has collaborated with Gorillaz, The Internet, Vince Staples, and Donald Glover, garnering attention since her debut in 2011. Her most extensive project is ‘Kilo Kish’, a solo music project exploring personal identity and socio-cultural expectations.

Kish works in a project-based format, diving into various genres and mediums to dissect her unsettled view of millennial life. Her work is characterized by existentialism, absurdity, and humor, explored through popular media formats like songs and music videos.

Her music has been featured in Vogue, W Magazine, The New York Times, Pitchfork, Dazed, The Guardian, Billboard, and Fader. Kish’s videos have been screened at the Getty Center, The Hammer Museum, and the Museum of Image and Sound in Brazil. She’s worked with countless brands in the fashion sphere, including Chanel, Rodarte, Levi’s, Nike, and Adidas. She’s created capsule collections and fashion pieces with Maison Kitsuné and X-Girl Japan. Kish exhibited performance and film works with two solo installations at HVW8 Art + Design Gallery in Los Angeles.

Urban Word is an NYC-based nonprofit that champions youth voice through workshops & performance opportunities in schools and community centers across the city, and serves as the founder of the National Youth Poet Laureate program.[1]

Womxn in Windows is a platform for the perspectives of womxn on culture, identity and society. What started as an annual public exhibition of womxn-made art films in storefront windows is now on a mission to support intergenerational and cross-cultural dialogue. WxW has been regarded by the LA Times as ‘a video art show made for this moment’ and by LA Weekly as ‘an installation that challenges conventions of female representation’. Through the years WxW has shown the works of digital artists and filmmakers such as Ja’tovia Gary, Kilo Kish, Alima Lee, Christine Yuan, Yumna Al Arashi & Arshia Fatima Haq among many others. WxW was founded in 2019 by Zehra Ahmed.

Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance, collaborates with contemporary artists and cultural institutions to experiment and engage with one of the world’s most iconic urban places. Through the Square’s electronic billboards, public plazas, vacant areas and popular venues, and the Alliance’s own online landscape, Times Square Arts invites leading contemporary creators, such as Mel Chin, Tracey Emin, Jeffrey Gibson, Ryan McGinley, Yoko Ono, and Kehinde Wiley, to help the public see Times Square in new ways. Times Square has always been a place of risk, innovation and creativity, and the Arts Program ensures these qualities remain central to the district’s unique identity.

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