Discover cult-artist Kat Toronto’s unique, multidisciplinary, fetish-inspired work ahead of tonight’s exhibition at Resistance Gallery.
Kat Toronto is a cult-status San Francisco Bay Area multi-disciplinary artist who works within the fetish scene. Splitting her time between design, costumery, millinery and photography, Kat’s showcase – on at Resistance Gallery this month – combines all of her talents in the form of self-styled Polaroid self-portraits. Instagrammers, move aside. Having an impressive list of previous shows, including one at Kat Von D’s Wonderland gallery, this will be the first Miss Meatface exhibition in the UK, and boy is she excited.
Self portraiture has been explored by almost every artist in history and features heavily in most of our own every-day lives – it is the pinnacle of self-expression, whether you’re taking a regular iPhone snap or looking at Frida Kahlo’s iconic pre-digital era selfies. Miss Meatface is an exploration into the many divisions of Kat Toronto’s character. Resistance Gallery has curated a mixture of her photography, costumery, handmade artefacts such as dolls, and a live performance from Kat on the opening night. As if all of her talents weren’t enough already, the lady is a damn good singer.
We met with Kat ahead of her show to chat outfit sourcing, moving to London and the psychological side to dressing up.
Miss Meatface, how are you finding London?
I absolutely love London, and I am actually planning to move here within the next few months.
How did you get the name Miss Meatface?
Miss Meatface actually evolved late last year when I started experimenting with gory special effects makeup and Polaroid photography.
Your styling involves a lot of latex, who introduced you to the fetish world?
It began as a dip into creative modelling in my early twenties. I was attending the California College of the Arts in Oakland and many of my friends were photographers and also into the fetish scene and I was asked by them to model and got hooked into it… I’ve always been hugely into costume, especially beautiful, elaborate garments from the turn of the last century. Not forgetting, of course, all of the incredible underthings women wore back then – all of these looks easily translated into contemporary fetish wear.
So, aside from being an artist you’re a clothing designer, too. Do you make all of the items you wear in your Polaroid self portraits?
I wear a mix of my own designs and vintage, plus new pieces that I buy and then customise with sequin appliqué and other bizarre little bits. I am a constant second-hand store shopper…..I try to go to second hand shops as much as possible!
Oh my God, so how are you going to bring all of this stuff over to the UK when you move?
I’ve been slowly bringing things over with each trip. This year I’ve visited three times so I’ve brought stuff over each time. So, yeah, I have a ton of wardrobe for shooting with.
Do you find that dressing up allows you to explore different sides of yourself?
Yeah, I do, exactly! It’s all about indulging in these fabulous characters that you can bring out via styling, photography, video or performance. I will see something in a second hand shop and from there I totally imagine this whole scenario based around it.
Do you work with a team to make your images?
Most all of the shoots I do on my own, by myself in my studio or in my house – I’m often teetering over to my camera set-up to action the self-timer on tip-toe in my ballet boots. I have somebody assisting me when I work in London, but that’s an exception.
How has working on this show been for you?
Self portraiture can be very cathartic. I’ve worked out quite a few of my own personal demons via my styling and photography. This past year has been a hugely transitional one for me and I know that it’s really revealed this in my work. Needless to say, I’ve had a pretty intense year so far!
Are you looking forward to the opening night?
I’m really excited, it’s going to be epic!