16 February 2014

Introducing Flabzilla

Kayleigh O'Keefe (@lady_in_fur) was my favourite entrant at last year's Hamburger Queen. I didn't realise that that event was the first time that she'd encountered fat politics, she was a natural with her Venus of Willendorf routine, which was as sophisticated a rendition of fat culture and embodiment as any I've ever seen over the years.

Since then, I've been following Kayleigh through the ups and downs of her Super 8/video project Flabzilla. You can read about this too via her blog. I know that this work has been a struggle to make at times, and now I'm so delighted to see it finished and released. It looks beautiful.

In her notes to the film, Kayleigh talks about subverting the idea of the monstrous fatty and for me this work plays beautifully with the idea that fat people are destroying the world, prompting climate change, heralding the end. She takes all those things that right-thinking normative people fear or scorn about fat people and she rubs their faces in it.

I see Flabzilla as part of a group of fat artists making work about fat that has embraced the monstrous. Rachel Herrick's tremendous Museum for Obeast Conservation Studies springs to mind, as does Allyson Mitchell's Ladies Sasquatch. Perhaps my own activity with Homosexual Death Drive performances is a part of this tradition. I see this work as a counterpoint to more assimilationist trends in fat activism, it's art that rejects normativity and represents the delightful yukky value of fat bodies, especially queer and feminist bodies. What Flabzilla contributes to this work is a good measure of malevolence and a lot more shameless fat nudity than I've seen before.

Anyway, that's all I want to say for now. I hope that Kayleigh is emboldened by the response to her work, and that she continues to create art and performance that develops these gorgeous and unruly ideas.

Go and watch Flabzilla.

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