Kayla Anderson is an interdisciplinary artist, writer, and organizer based in Chicago, IL. They have participated in artist residencies and incubators at the Chicago Artists Coalition and Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL; Elsewhere, Greensboro, NC; ACRE, WI, and Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, Paris. They are a Visual Arts Fellow of the Luminarts Cultural Foundation. Their studio is located at Mana Contemporary Chicago.
Their work has been exhibited in venues throughout the United States and abroad including Currents International New Media Festival, Santa Fe; Urban Institute for Contemporary Art, Grand Rapids; Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography; West Virginia Mountaineer Short Film Festival; Regis Center for Art at the University of Minnesota; Grey Projects, Tiong Bahru, Singapore; Nối Projects, Hanoi, Vietnam; Johalla Projects, Tritriangle, Comfort Station, Woman Made Gallery, The Nightingale Cinema, Efrain Lopez Gallery, Roman Susan, and LVL3, Chicago, IL.
Their writing has been published in Leonardo Journal (MIT Press), the International Awards in Art Criticism (IAAC) compendium (The Royal College of Art), and MU TXT (MU Art Space, Eindhoven), and presented at SIGGRAPH 2014-2015, the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center at the UCSB, and the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. In 2016 they were a participating artist and researcher at the Anthropocene Campus at Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), Berlin and a Visiting Tutor at the Dutch Art Institute and the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in the Netherlands. In addition to their art practice, they have curated several exhibitions focusing on film, video, and new media art, including Code/Switch at Woman Made Gallery, Freeze Frame: Artists’ Books and the Moving Image at the Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection, and [History] Under Construction at Gallery X, Chicago, IL.
They currently holds the position of Manager of Library Special Collections at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where they curate exhibitions, lecture, and mentor students in the history, theory, and creation of artists’ publications. In their spare time, they organizes a monthly critique group for feminine spectrum media artists called Media Grrrl. They received a BFA in Fiber & Material Studies and Film, Video & New Media from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013 and a BA in Visual and Critical Studies from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2014.
Using a playful approach to methods of excavation, my work engages with cultural artifacts of the past in order to propose parallel worlds. Through video, installation, sculpture, and interactive virtual environments, I create propositional spaces for questioning our present image-scape and imagining otherwise. I position myself as a thing-among-things and act as an intermediary between objects and ideas.
The work takes particular objects, taxonomies, and texts as points of departure and is often driven by an intuitive investigation into what actions or processes the source material inspires. I view the world as animate, teeming with human and non-human agents in a web of relations. I consider the objects and images I use as collaborators — the work a performance of our shared history. By exposing my own interactions with objects, the work sanctions a space for others to examine their experiences and associations with the inanimate.
Growing up as a twin, I was confronted with the philosophical proposition of existing in plural. I never felt attached to my image as a source of identity; appearances can be deceiving. Through video, I often inhabit my work in the same capacity as my source material: as a reproduction. Using my image as a discrete element within my video work, I gain the ability to both act on and be acted upon by other images, thus leveling the field between my body and the cultural artifacts I explore. I view this leveling of the borders between subject and object as an alternative to the system that renders some subjects and others objects of society.
Through deliberate staging, I invite the viewer to question common assumptions about fact and fiction, musing and reality. Through making, I propose a shift in our perception of objects as purely inanimate towards an acceptance of an object’s ability to transform and transport us, and to interact in ways previously overlooked.
I consider my practice to be a process of world-building in both form and content. My projects begin with a single source and radiate outwards into vast networks. Rather than making discrete works, my practice evolves rhizomatically—a single project might contain a series of videos, sculptures, a sound track, writing, and a constructed environment. Because my works are often large-scale, I use each exhibition as a chance to grow the work and expand the world that it exists in.
My work emerges from a fascination with the visual or material, but I find pleasure in philosophy, media studies, and critical theory. While I don’t depend upon theory for the meaning of my work, I am inspired by writings from the non-human turn, such as object-oriented ontology, speculative realism, posthumanism, and cyborg theory. I embrace Joanna Zylinska’s call for a mode of philosophizing that “produces ideas with things and events rather than just with words” and I believe that art is a mode for doing philosophy as such.
I consider taking the time to think as a political act: a potential cut within the flow of late capitalism. I want to make things to think with. I want to slow down, pry apart, and reconfigure our image culture—our collective hopes and subconscious dreams—so that we might find space for radical imagining.