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Kim Kardashian is Dead! And Other Stories

An exhibition with Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri exploring the intersection of fame, fantasy, and issues of social justice and human rights

Values


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Public culture
  • Social Justice

Organizing Institutions

Slought, Penn Social Justice & Arts Integration Initiative

Organizers

Eduardo Cadava, Aaron Levy, GK Reid

Funders

Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

Acknowledgments

Special thanks to Tel K. Ganesan and Kyyba Kidz Foundation

Opens to public

11/15/2019

Time

6:30-8:30pm

Address

Slought
4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Slought and SP2 Social Justice and Arts Integration Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania are pleased to announce Kim Kardashian is Dead! And Other Stories, an exhibition of photographic and filmic works by Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri engaging issues of social justice and human rights, on display November 15, 2019 - January 10, 2020. The exhibition features work often made in collaboration with foundations, community activists, artists, and celebrities such as David Bowie, Serena Williams, and Alicia Keys, among others. An opening reception will take place on Friday, November 15, 2019 from 6:30-8:30pm and will feature a discussion with Indrani and special guests about comparative strategies for art, advocacy, and structural change. The SP2 Initiative makes the bold claim that the arts are an indispensable means and method of imagining justice and making democracy.

Kim Kardashian is Dead! aims to encourage conversation about how artists, thinkers, and activists can utilize strategies of fame, fantasy, advertising, and aesthetics to encourage ethical awareness, provoke conversation, and inspire change. The exhibition explores diverse experimental approaches to raising awareness of social justice issues in Indrani's work, and focuses on three main strategies – the mobilization of fame, fantasy, and ethical imperatives. In addressing the efficiency, advantages, complexities, and at times complicities that these strategies involve, the exhibition also provides an opportunity for measuring the relative success of such endeavors in reaching their intended audiences and achieving their desired impact, while at the same time discussing the risks involved in such projects. It also considers the effects of the transformation of persons into images, of the commodification, and even self-commodification, of celebrity, and the resulting creation and destruction of celebrity subjectivity. Is it possible for celebrities to have a fixed identity or must they always exist in relation to the set of images that define them at any given moment? In what way might the transformation that is perhaps their signature be what enables them to be appropriated and mobilized in either the direction of social justice or its opposite, or even in both directions at once? To what extent are celebrities—or any of us—able to control or claim the images through which they are presented to the world?

The exhibition takes its title from a campaign in which Kim Kardashian is Dead! is printed over Mrs. Kardashian in a coffin, and over other celebrities who, in a similar pose, also participated in the project. The campaign asked for donations to revive Mrs. Kardashian and these other celebrities in order to raise millions of dollars for families with AIDS in Africa and India. It inspired massive media and public discussion about the mobilization of celebrity in the direction of social justice activism. Other projects in the exhibition include David Bowie's music video Valentine's Day, featured in the HBO Movie The Last Five Years, and starring Bowie exploring the mind of a high school mass shooter; the CNN Expose Best Picture Award-winning short Girl Epidemic, featuring media hysteria as men in hazmat suits quarantine girls in a pandemic metaphor for the millions of girls disappearing because of sex slavery, child labor, and infanticide; Till Human Voices Wake Us, a short film in which Selkies, mythical creatures that are seals in water and women on land, storm Manhattan in order to remind us of the importance of environmental sustainability; Crescendo, a short film in which Indian girls escape work and marriage to play football with an elephant; and a conventional public service announcement Crisis in the Central African Republic, featuring Mandy Moore for Nothing But Nets, advocating more equitable health care and distributing mosquito nets against malaria.

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Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri is a multidisciplinary artist, a photographer, a social justice advocate, and a "leading director and voice for female empowerment" (Tribeca Film Festival). Believing that artists as myth-makers shape the parameters of the possible, her work explores transformation and the intersection between mythology and reality from diverse perspectives in order to inspire social change. She has presented her major exhibition and book ICONS at Lincoln Center, and her work has won 27 awards, including The Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Disruptor Award, Best Picture and Best Director at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, two Gold Lions at the Cannes Festival of Creativity, and Best Film at the CNN 2018 Expose Awards for her short on sex trafficking.

While studying Anthropology at Princeton University, Indrani was discovered and mentored by David Bowie and Iman, who commissioned her first album art for Heathen and her directorial debut, Valentine's Day, starring Bowie. Indrani helped launch the careers of Beyonce and Lady Gaga by photographing the art for their debut albums, the cover of Dangerously in Love and The Fame Monster (Collectors Ed), respectively. She also has worked with Kate Winslet, Keanu Reeves, Kanye West, Will Smith, among many others.

A proud biracial and bisexual artist, "wielding her visionary work like a weapon, Indrani uses her art and resources for social justice and change" (SOMA Magazine), empowering women, minorities, and the LGBTQ community, and working for environmental sustainability. As a teen model-actor, Indrani co-founded the Shakti Empowerment Foundation for women and girls in India, which she continues to direct. Indrani was Co-Host of the Global People's Summit during the General Assembly at the United Nations, Special Advisor to the UNGMDF, a Fellow and Speaker at Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the UN, and Host of New York Live Arts - AI Live Ideas Gala this last spring.

Featured in the New York Times, LA Times, Rolling Stone, Vogue, Vanity Fair and VICE, and published in 23 books, her work is represented in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Museum, and has been exhibited at, among others, the Centre Pompidou Paris, the Victoria & Albert Museum London, the Brooklyn Museum, the Rubin Museum of Art, the Museum at FIT, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, and the Australian Center for the Moving Image. She has created images and commercials for over 300 brands, and her work has over 70 million views online. A prolific speaker, she has been interviewed for CNN and HBO, and she has delivered lectures at Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center, Centre Pompidou, New York University, Princeton University, and Harvard University.

"Stars — spectacular representations of living human beings... specialists of apparent life... act out various lifestyles or sociopolitical viewpoints in a full, totally free manner. They embody the inaccessible results of social labor by dramatizing the by-products of that labor which are magically projected above it as its ultimate goals: power and vacations...

On the one hand, a governmental power may personalize itself as a pseudostar; on the other, a star of consumption may campaign for recognition as a pseudopower over life."

-- Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle (1967)


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