by Kathie Halfin
While being an immigrant and living in between 3 different cultures Ukraine, Israel and New York, Kathie interacts with people, institutions and systems that often stereotyped her identity and blocked access based on the assumptions about who she is. Over years, she developed a substantial anxiety that communication implies. Will she be understood? Will she able to fit in?
As a call to reclaim her body and her place as Ukrainian/Israeli immigrant living in United States, she performs the actions of love, care and resistance. The room includes 2 barricades of unbaked clay blocks in front and behind the performer. They partially block the view of her body. She sits in the middle, wears a clay mask and quietly builds clay on the top of her body from the clay blocks around her. She eventually peels the clay off and creates openings for the mouth and eyes in the clay mask that she wears. Through the openings Kathie shares the stereotypes she was told through her life as Ukrainian Israeli woman. To subvert and cleanse these stereotypes and expectations off her body, Kathie uses a dental floss. She flosses her teeth each time she shares a new stereotype about herself and peels the clay off her mask.
Kathie interacts with the the clay barricades which she confronts and pushes. Through a series of actions with the barricades Kathie tells her immigrant story. She squeezes the malleable clay mass at the first barricade with her body and shares what is dear to her and what she loves. Further, she approaches a second barricade and shares about her Soviet childhood, the experience of the Soviet Collapse, loss of jobs, and eventual immigration to Israel. Kathie ends with the present moment in United States as an immigrant educator in a private school where she had to confront the principal who asked her to join the group of white teachers during the anti-racial professional development. Kathie reclaims her past and her mixed identity by transforming, throwing and flattening the clay blocks barricades and exclaiming her personal chants.
Kathie Halfin is an interdisciplinary artist and performer. She was born in Ukraine and raised in Israel. Kathie is currently based in New York.
Kathie stages performances and builds sculptural installations that reflect on personal and politically charged experiences of immigration, labor and gender identity. Her labor intensive performances explore modes of resistance to oppression through endurance, vulnerability and personal storytelling.
Through reenactment of daily routines, visceral encounter with materials, and emotionally charged often conflicting cultural experiences that she conveys, Kathie reclaims her mixed identity and her immigrant experience. In her practice, Kathie questions cultural stereotypes and explores how the dominant language could be upturned and questioned.
Kathie Halfin performed and exhibited her work at the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum 2019, NARS Foundation 2019, White Box Performance Series 2019, Immigrant Artist Biennial Soft Launch at the Assembly Room 2019, Itinerant Performance Festival: Smack Mellon 2019, Knockdown Center: Sunday Series 2018, Art In Odd Places: BODY Performance Festival 2018, Starlight Park 2018 in the Bronx, Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center 2018, Bronx Museum AIM Biennial 2017, and the A.I.R. Gallery among others.