The Lab

The Lab is a nonprofit experimental art and performance space located in the Mission District of San Francisco.

Kembra Pfahler

Photos by Walter Wlodarczyk

Photos by Walter Wlodarczyk

Event is FREE for those who backed our Kickstarter and FREE for members
$20 general admission

The Lab has invited Kembra Pfahler to transform its space into a surreal “Manual of Action” through her core tenets of Availabism, Beautalism, and Antinaturalism. The madness will culminate with a performance event on May 28th hosted by Kembra and her brother Adam Pfahler's (formerly of Jawbreaker) band California. In the words of Nick Zedd/Orion Jeriko this event promises “blood, shame, pain and ecstasy, the likes of which no one has yet imagined. None shall emerge unscathed!”

Wearing a stack of teased bouffant fright wigs, her nude body painted pink, yellow, or blue, for the past 35 years Kembra Pfahler has enacted a dark, hysterical character that rages against female archetypes. Pfahler performs punk-metal songs amid elaborate hand-constructed sets where she and the Girls of Karen Black engage in transgressive acts. Inspired by Viennese Actionists Hermann Nitsch, Otto Mühl, and Rudolf Schwarzkogler, Pfahler developed anti-naturalism as way to explore the attraction of repulsion. In her art and music, Pfahler follows the philosophy of availabism—making the best of what’s available. This is apparent in the low-tech props and homemade costumes the Girls of Karen Black don on stage and which fill Pfahler’s exhibition installations.

The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black has toured extensively since the 1990s and has recorded four classic rock albums. In 2006, The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black gave a conceptual concert, entitled Sound of Magic, at Deitch Projects. Recently, the Independent Film Channel produced a special film on the group called: I Believe in Halloween. Pfahler’s work has been included in solo exhibitions at Deitch Projects, PS1 Contemporary Art Center, and The Hole, New York, NY, Rove Gallery, London, UK, and Hpgrp, Tokyo, Japan. She was a featured artist in the 2008 Whitney Biennial, New York, NY. Pfahler’s work has been discussed in The New York Times, W magazine, and Rolling Stone, among others. Pfahler's recent collaborative exhibition Future Feminism at The Hole NYC was described by Dazed Digital as "a clan of creative, pissed-off minds out to change the face of feminism through art."

Presented in partnership with the Varda Artists Residency Program.