New York-based sculptor E.V. Day made a name for herself with her exploding installation sculptures, where she uses fishing wire to hang deconstructed frocks (including opera costumes, bridal gowns, flamenco dresses, and more) in a hauntingly graceful manner. Two summers ago, she was the recipient of the Munn Artist in Residence of The Versailles Foundation, which she spent living on Claude Monet’s estate in Giverny. The body of work that emerged from her four-month stay bears an unexpected twist to the gardens’ history and Day’s habitual M.O.—though upon closer inspection, might not be so peculiar after all.
Titled Giverny, Day produced a series of photographs that embraced the gardens, ponds, bridges, and water lilies immortalized in Monet’s paintings with one important addition: a neon fuchsia-skinned nude with a bird’s nest of raven hair and black teeth. The nymph is Karen Black, the alter ego of performance artist Kembra Pfahler, whom Day imagined standing among the lily pads while simultaneously epitomizing female allure and echoing the luscious sexuality of the environment. A symbol of contradictions, Black represents the darkness in extreme beauty, the goth of glamour, and other opposites that serve to reinforce each other within the notion of femalehood. Most compelling about the images is the harmony between Black and Giverny, which prevails instead of the opposition that one might expect. Yet the traits shared by woman and nature seem to pour from the canvas, as both Black and the garden are well-groomed, full of life, and powerful icons of their kind.
Artlog stopped by The Hole , which had transformed itself into a makeshift Giverny especially for the exhibition of Day’s thought-provoking photos, to talk with the artist about her photographs, femininity, and Monet’s famous grounds.