The work to define ourselves is endless, a sisyphean task.
Harlee Mollenkopf is a visual artist who was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1995. She received her BA from Kenyon College and is a current MFA candidate at Mills College. Using her body as grounds for artistic expression, she exposes the psychological trauma inherent in the hegemony of mind-body dualism. The catalyst for her work is derived from a quest to integrate complicated psychosomatic rifts in her personal life such as anorexia, endurance athleticism, and bipolar depression, and sexual abuse.
By assuming the identity of a psychogeographic cartographer, she charts the psychic terrain of the body. Performance, photography, and sculpture are her tools of exploration and surveillance. Her self-portraits are born from the Sisyphean attempt to define the limits of the self. Viewing the body as a series of layers subject to building, rearranging, and molting, she swaps the idea of a limit for that of an osmotic membrane. She traces the ebb and flow of the self through its permeation, passage, extension, and regression. The skin, and all its anomalies are her landscape. By inciting disgust, curiosity, and arousal as affective landmarks, she urges a return to bodily experience.
Employing the semiotics of feminist performance art, she inserts herself into cyclical struggle to define feminine autonomy and power. Drawing upon a repertoire of mischief and subversion, she believes that the work of body art will never be complete so long as we continue to live with phallocentrism.
Mollenkopf’s art practice is in direct response to her critical writing project to craft an Anti-Dualist Lexicon. She believes that language has the capacity to both harm and heal. Frustrated by the dualistic language wielded by academics, critics, fellow artists, and even by the artist herself, her lexicon is a distillation of terms and theory that critique dichotomous thinking in critical discourses. By delving into the fields of feminist and queer theory, philosophy, and psychoanalysis she is engaging in a hybrid field that seeks to reclaim language for those thinking, writing, and working with the body.
Harlee Mollenkopf is the 2017 recipient of the AICUO Award for Excellence in The Visual Arts with recognition by the Ohio House of Representatives and Senate.
She currently resides in Oakland, CA.