Kim Miller: Theater of Heavy Clouds

April 21, 2013 - April 21, 2014


Performance, April 21, 2013

Ideology interpellates individuals as Subjects.
--Louis Althusser

Kim Miller begins her twelve-month artist-in-residence project, Theater of Heavy Clouds, on Sunday, April 21, 2013 during our annual Kites Over Lynden: A Day for Art and Flying. On that day she will offer Introduction: Theater of Heavy Clouds, the first of four seasonal performances at Lynden. Over the course of the year she will be working with performance, video, installation and text, as well as leading a series of collaborative workshops

The goal for Theater of Heavy Clouds is to expand our understanding of the nature of the subject–to realize our individual implication in creating our own subjectivity, using the space of Lynden Sculpture Garden as the platform for exploration. This investigation is a performative one, exploring various configurations of the performing subject and the relationship between performer and audience. The act of viewing--of answering the question What am I looking at?--is based upon the structures that determine our conceptions of the self: rational principles, or ideas and conclusions we have determined to be rational principles. The art viewing experience may be performed as a radical democratic process: as the artist acts, so does the viewer. The viewer plays an inherent role in establishing a radical democratic space, an aestheticized dialogue, the public meeting ground of such an experience.

Miller’s work is informed by theoreticians who investigate the construction of the subject or self including Jacques Lacan, Louis Althusser, Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau. Does—can--a radical democratic human subject exist? How is it constructed? Laclau and Mouffe describe the historical, contingent, varying links between subject positions (female, gay, black...) that establish an “undetermined relation” between these positions as “articulations.” These articulations are fertile places of mobility, bringing disparate positions together to form an agonistic pluralism. The radical democratic subject is situated at a point of converging articulations. These articulations are in constant flux, emerging and dissipating, refining and morphing. Thus, no subject is ever stable, and no social identity is ever completely and permanently realized. Irreconcilable differences are marked within a radical democracy and are seen as interdependent upon one another to exist. How, then, does an unstable, flexible social subject relate to a political field or to culture?

Miller’s field of investigation will be the Lynden Sculpture Garden. The outdoor spaces will be revisited each season, acting as both stage and subject. Material will be generated from a series of community-based workshops emphasizing performance, sculpture, video and writing. These collaborative workshops are designed around the model articulated by Augusto Boal and the Theater of the Oppressed in which all participants generate content including subject matter, texts and movements. Spectators are referred to as spect-actors, as the audience has an active role in the work. Each workshop will conclude with a public performance. These performances will be videotaped, and portions of that material will be incorporated into individual performances by Miller, feeding and directing her solo performance work. Video, props and text generated in these workshops will migrate into other video and performances, contributing to a cumulative project that will progress across a year.

About the Artist
Kim Miller moves across the fields of video and performance. Employing forms borrowed from performance art, modern dance, theater, and film, multiple forms of address and shifting subject articulations build and collapse. Mapping an intersection between public space and private, political and social, associative and didactic questions are structured around a radical democratic model. What is a democratic subject? Does such a thing exist, and what does it look like?

The overlap between presence and representation within performance is explored as an interrogation into the artistic subject as an institution.The instability of the institution of the artistic subject may offer support to a radical democratic subject, or not. Within the space of performance the individual’s relationship to a community is examined.

Working collaboratively with groups such as novice Buddhist monks in Thailand, developmentally and cognitively disabled adults in the United States, and with her own dance troupe, Miller attempts to bring the participant into their own agency, responsible for and contributing to their own experience. This radical democracy of subject is extended to the audience, too.

What’s at stake is one’s very existence, one’s self, and our subjecthood, our position in relation to one another. Perhaps Miller is working, hopefully and enthusiastically, toward a democratic subject without ever reaching this place. Or else, when she says “you,” she has called a “you” into being.

Miller received her MFA at Vermont College, Montpelier, Vermont and her BFA at Cooper Union in New York City. She has shown videos, performed live and produced combinations of the two on national tours and in shows from China to Milwaukee. She was awarded the Kunstlerhaus Buchsenhausen Artist-in-Residence in 2008-09, the 2009 Mary L. Nohl Individual Artist Fellowship, and an artist residency at Compeung, in Doi Saket, Thailand in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Miller has taught at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; and Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design.


©2010 Lynden Sculpture Garden