Elizabeth Kahane

ART BUZZ SPOTLIGHT: Elizabeth Kahane’s “Wigstock”

By Emily Randolph

I first met Elizabeth Kahane, known professionally as E.A. Kahane, at the 2021 opening of her photography exhibit of the Mille Miglia race, “Front Row Seat,” at the Hammetts Hotel in association with Newport Curates and Jessica Hagen Fine Art + Design. Kahane radiated the energy and the excitement of the race and we, her audience, were captivated and transported to Italy with her installation. In fact, the Newport exhibit led to the great honor of exhibiting her work at the Mille Miglia Museum in Italy this past June.

Previously, Kahane also created “We Need a Parade” in 2020, an outdoor exhibit, as well as “Off the Wall” in 2019, held at Jessica Hagen’s gallery, which was totally transformed to take the viewer on safari. To complete the experience, Kahane even built a usable jeep-seat sculpture with a photography-printed back rest. By all accounts, the event was wild.

This Thursday evening, 5-8PM, Kahane has planned a new experience for us, “Wigstock,” at her new and spacious studio within 73 Pelham Street. The name of the exhibit comes from Wigstock (which takes its name from the 1969 Woodstock Festival), an annual drag festival that started in New York City in 1985 and acted as the unofficial opening of summer.

Kahane took the photographs in 1996 (before the birth and proliferation of the camera phone) during that year’s Wigstock. Notably, she was struck by all the effort the men took to dress and adorn themselves and their sheer joy and freedom of expression. This is what she wanted to capture and has done so successfully, with all the color, natural light, joy and pageantry of the event. The photographs are nearly all of men posing for her camera and are clearly revelling in the attention.

Kahane’s exhibit Thursday evening will be an interactive experience. First and foremost, don a wig, just like the participants of Wigstock. As Kahane mentions, if you’ve ever worn a wig, you know how it transforms you. You can be anyone you want to be. Next, prepare to have your photo taken in front of a backdrop, just like at the real Wigstock. “Aquarius” will be playing over the speakers and “Wigstock: The Movie” will be projected.

Kahane, a passionate art lover and collector, became interested in photography at the age of 17 when given a Pentax 35mm camera as a gift. While self-taught, E.A. Kahane has taken classes on the art of printing black & white film in the darkroom at the International Center for Photography in 1998 and again in 2009.  In 2011 she attended the famed Jay Maisel workshop in NYC.  In 2013 she studied with Arthur Meyerson in Santa Fe, NM. In addition, Kahane participated in photographic workshops with the JDC in Israel in 2015 and in Morocco in 2017. 

Currently, Kahane also lends her time and talent to many organizations including, to name a few: Tate Modern, London, England; Art & Newport, Newport, RI; the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY; Aperture, New York, NY; and the AHRC NYC Foundation, New York, NY.

Don’t forget that wig Thursday evening. Prepare for a fun evening – and likely many more fun and interactive experiences created by Kahane. She is excited to invite you into her studio, which inspires her creativity. Will it contain it? Given Kahane’s abundance of energy, it is unlikely. Expect great adventures ahead.

Thursday, July 21, 2022
5:00-8:00 PM
E.A Kahane
73 Pelham St.
Newport, RI 02840



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