DARLING IF YOU WANT ME TO You. I would. Die 4. U.
  • Courtesy of the artist
  • DARLING IF YOU WANT ME TO You. I would. Die 4. U.

When Seattle artist MKNZ performs at Velocity tonight, her girlfriend will be missing. All that will appear in the lost girlfriend's place is a broken-down cinder block made of cracked ceramic, something that couldn't hold anybody's weight and barely has hold of its own. Something extremely fragile is replacing the girlfriend who once sat in this spot and pin-prick-tattooed "darling if you want me to" on MKNZ's arm.

The original performance happened almost exactly a year ago. For an hour, the lovers put their trust and devotion on display. (Photo above.) MKNZ's got her arm through a hole in a heavy leaning wall. Taylor Pinton's doing the ink work on MKNZ's arm, but MKNZ can't see what Pinton is tattooing. She doesn't find out until later that it's lyrics from Prince's catchy ode to sacrifice in the name of love, "I Would Die 4 U." While MKNZ's blindly trusting Pinton to leave a prominent permanent mark on her body, Pinton is trusting MKNZ not to let go of the rope she's holding. The rope is tethered to the freestanding wall. If MKNZ drops it, the wall crashes on Pinton. They called the performance Blind Faith. It happened April 11, 2013, at the now-defunct Hard L Gallery, and afterward, they were both exhausted.

Through May 3, photo-documentation of the original is on display at True Love, along with the later fragile ceramic cinder block. The wall label tells a tale:

In December of 2013 the couple abruptly split.

What happened? How did everything go so wrong? She would die 4 U!

MKNZ/LINDSAY Knife, Michigan tattoo.
  • Courtesy of the artist
  • MKNZ/LINDSAY Knife, Michigan tattoo.

I'm starting to learn that short jumps from devotion to devastation, or decency to depravity, fuel the sputtering engine of MKNZ's proud art. Her medium is almost any, and she's starting to be someone whose work I look for and hope for. It's tough, intimate art about her life and times, simple as that.

Her other work at True Love is a large acrylic painting. Its muted tones don't blunt the lurid subject: Lindsay Lohan wearing a come-hither look while holding a knife to her pouty lip, another butcher knife aimed toward her nipple, which is about to be exposed by a hand yanking at her tank top. The painting is based on a photograph from a notorious set of party pictures Lohan released in 2007. In the painting, Lohan almost looks like a mad goddess. Rather than using Lohan as the butt of a joke, MKNZ almost seems to be relating to her. Maybe not, but MKNZ could pull that off. Sure, it's a bad world. But hard comes with soft in MKNZ's art, and that's my first thought, this first time I'm writing about her, about why I like it—for being both. MKNZ calls the painting These Eyes Have Known a Lot of Loves.