Kim Waldron

Saelan Twerdy
  • Head Office (Blue Monochrome), from the series Kim Waldron Ldt., 2017. Photo: courtesy of Kim Waldron Ldt. & Galerie Thomas Henry Ross art contemporain, Montréal
  • Worker #2, from the project Made in Québec, 2015. Photo: courtesy of the artist & Galerie Thomas Henry Ross art contemporain, Montréal
  • Worker #15, from the project Made in Québec, 2015. Photo: courtesy of the artist & Galerie Thomas Henry Ross art contemporain, Montréal
  • Worker #28, from the project Made in Québec, 2015. Photo: courtesy of the artist & Galerie Thomas Henry Ross art contemporain, Montréal

Kim Waldron’s work with staged photographic self-portraiture is often the outcome of durational projects that embed the artist in social situations. Through self-representation, Waldron probes the question of an individual’s place in the social world — what one does and how one appears to others — in ways that touch on intimate relationships as well as professional and economic domains. Often depicting herself at work in various contexts, Waldron creates narrative tableaux that question what kind of labour is socially visible and who performs it. At the same time, much of her own process relies on work that occurs behind the scenes: gaining access to sites and resources, learning skills, forming relationships and building trust, and engaging in the dialogue that makes the work possible and determines its form.

Working Assumption (2003) laid the groundwork for the subsequent focus on labour in Waldron’s practice: she asked male strangers from a variety of professions if she could borrow their clothes and their workspace, in which she photographed herself enacting the poses of their job. A later piece, Made in Québec (2015), considered the power dynamics of the global distribution of labour. Waldron “exported” herself to Xiamen, China, where she attempted to “give back” some of the labour time saved by cheap Chinese industry by performing unpaid work in local facilities. Expecting to find Xiamen (a “special economic zone”) dominated by large factories, Waldron discovered that such places were not easy to see. Instead, she was placed in small businesses where, to minimize the complications caused by translation and training, she ultimately focused on staging photographs as a means of integrating into the work force. Like Working Assumption’s incongruous images of a young woman draped in the oversized uniform of a priest, mechanic, or businessman, the effect of Made in Québec derives from seeing the artist working where she does not appear to belong. With her most recent project, Kim Waldron Ltd. (2016–), Waldron has taken self-representation a step beyond personal identity. Reflecting on the decentralization and financialization of the global economy, she has incorporated an offshore company in Hong Kong.

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