Sanity TV: On Location

Artist: Autumn Knight
video | Performance still, Akademie der Kunste, Berlin | 2018

Autumn Knight’s ongoing performance series Sanity TV takes the form of a fictional television talk show in which members of the audience become part of the performance. The artist, who holds a master’s degree in drama therapy, often exaggerates and probes the psychology of the audience group, disrupting their expectations of the environment by moving through the crowd, rearranging the seating, giving the viewers various prompts, asking them unexpected questions, or offering moments of release to dance during “segments” of the show. Provoking both laughter and discomfort, Knight uses absurdity as a means to question the ways in which society frames and inflects identity through structures of power. For the Biennial she will be using different spaces throughout the building—from conference rooms to the theater—to explore distinct individual perspectives within group dynamics. A fake infomercial produced with deadpan humor, Autumn Knight’s Roaches Aren’t the Easiest Creatures to Milk riffs on a National Public Radio report that cockroach milk might be a source of nutrition in the future. The camera focuses on a person drinking and simultaneously spilling milk, interspersed with on-screen text. The video mirrors the structure of pharmaceutical commercials, beginning with a series of utopian promises and ending with an acknowledgement of potentially dire side effects, such as structural racism and sexual violence. Knight plays with our collective awareness that vermin disproportionately plague communities living in substandard housing—and that such living conditions are historically connected to racial injustice.


Whitney Biennial 2019 | 2019.05.17 - 2019.09.22 | Whitney Museum of American Art(New York City, NY, United States)