With a long memory of singing, audio engineering and heartbreak, Madison René Knapp began writing for her current solo project MRK in 2012.
VICE has crowned her style with the following hypothesis: “If Kate Bush was David Byrne’s conjoined twin and the siblings raised themselves on an abandoned desert island by reciting show tunes to one another, the result would be MRK.” She has been dubbed one of LAWeekly’s “Top 10 Artists to Watch”, Flaunt Magazine has covered her music/art installation residency at a local LA gallery, and she has been featured on the likes of femmusic.com and NVRMNDus.com as being a “supreme voice” with “songwriting that challenges and provokes.” All this has circled back around to, most recently, being featured on VICE’s The Creator’s Project for her performance in an art film. She is currently writing her next album, participating in art everywhere and expanding her musical/installation/performance pieces wherever possible.
MRK’s full moniker MRKLOVESYOU belies the truth of her creative endeavours. MRK does love you and wants to sing about the trials and tribulations of loving you.
It was a Full Rose Moon out in White Sands, New Mexico. The only thing softer than the pinkish glow of that moon was the delicate curling gypsum sand as the wind traced ripples down the desert’s back.
Well, maybe there was one thing softer: me and all my tender bullshit emotions.
When Marina and I decided to shoot together, we bonded over that softness. We share a vulnerable sensibility that conquers the elements of our respective mediums. Where she transforms hard physical materials into dreamy shapes, creating entire environments of soothing light and color to be captured in images, I condense the spiny melodrama of my human experience into sounds and performances that strive for radical openness—often to spite the very real demons we all face.
Our collaboration on these photos stemmed from a mutual desire to portray an ecstatically unguarded emotionalism. The holographic tears running down my face and nails, the cloud eyebrows, the floral colors and accents (all made by Marina), swirl in the cosmos of nature, light and my pensively hyperfeminine form/attitude.
Another standout in this series of photographs is the golden crown and flowing pink robe designed by Holly Bobbisuthi of Oakland, California. Even with starkly different accessories, the same sensitive, ethereal power glows in Marina’s images.
This blends effortlessly with the sentiments my forthcoming EP “TEARS.”
For me, this album was a dream sequence of heartaches, and the song “ABSOLUTE” is no exception. It is a rumination on the violence of desire, born of a series of physically and emotionally abusive relationships with men.
Power dynamics make up the quantum mechanics of every relationship, romantic or not. Each moment of existence is a push-pull, ebb-flow, see-saw of the physical and metaphysical. In popular culture and media we are seeing these oscillations happen in hyperreal time. Having these truths reflected back onto ourselves in this way gives us a chance to internalize the nature of oppression in our own lives. The arc of our participation in society as individuals with varying degrees of advantages and disadvantages has a heightened level of accountability now. This is why mass catharsis of art, music, protest and any other communal activity is more valuable than ever. The personal is political and the political is personal; so it must be if we are to survive each other.
I believe that all sentient beings are artists and all of life is art, but to come to the personal understanding that one is an artist is a weighted privilege. On one hand, I am deeply lucky to have the ability, support and confidence (or as Franz Klein called it, “the capacity to be embarrassed”) to abstract and emote my experience through creative expression. On the other hand, I have often found it challenging to plainly stand up for myself in “non-artistic” circumstances. My artistic inclination/self-acceptance gives me the gift of deep introspection that forcibly transmutes itself into performative articulation. That’s how I wrote a song about domestic violence that might not be overtly translatable as being about domestic violence. That’s how the personal becomes political.
Although these photos and music video may bely a simplistic glamour, I can promise you there is more. I see it. I can see it in my eyes, my gestures, I can see it in the memories of the memories I was evoking to make those gestures. I can see it in the conversations that Marina and I so frequently have about life and the world and womanhood and personhood. I can even see it in the absence of a more aggressive visual commentary that “I have been hurt.” To me, those things are obvious. We are all in some kind of pain. We have all hurt and been hurt. I choose to wear all our tears as jewels in the light of the sun and moon. I cry for me and I cry for you.
I can see it, can you?
Listen to Tears here
Photography & Videography: Marina Fini @marinafini
Artist: MRK @mrklovesyou