Kai Bryan is an award-winning visual artist, curator, and drag performer based in St. John’s, Ktaqmkuk. Their works in video, performance, and installation deploy craft-based practices, cinematic references and eroticism to playfully undermine and question experiences of intimacy, pleasure, and desire. Kai uses their video and craft based skills to support and enrich their performance work, often fabricating custom prosthetics, costumes, props, and sets to create complex characters and narratives. Their performance practice is informed by their non-binary experience and clown training, using emotional candor and humour to express and complicate embodied experiences of gender. Kai’s curatorial logic centres on the care-full act of holding space. Their curations enact queer community building through archival practices and inhabitation to critique representations of queerness by art institutions.
Kai’s work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions, screening series, and festivals including: The Retroflex Queer Cabaret, curated by Jason Wells, Eastern Edge Gallery, NL (2019), Full Tilt performance series, curated by Matthew Hill, The Rooms, NL (2019), Nervous whether, The Rooms (St. John’s) and Grenfell Art Gallery (Corner Brook), NL (2016-17); SOFT, curated by Coral Short, Berlin, Germany (2017); HOLD FAST Contemporary Art Festival, with Pepa Chan, St. John’s, NL (2016); Wild, Pure Aesthetic Wonder, Craft Council Gallery, St. John’s, NL (2015); MIXCopenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark (2015), MixNYC, Brooklyn, New York (2014); Wade In, curated by Jason Penney/Mary MacDonald and Zach Pearl, Toronto and St.John’s, ON/NL (2014-15).
Kai was a founding member of Tongue & Groove Collective (Toronto) who from 2009 - 2013 created interactive installation and community-based projects from reclaimed materials in exhibitions and public art events including: Gift Shop Gift Shop, curated by Pascal Paquette and Sean Martindale at the Art Gallery of Ontario (2012); Fix-em-up Free Market, Whippersnapper Gallery, Toronto, ON (2011); and Odds & Entries, XPace Gallery, Toronto, ON (2010). Kai received their BFA with Honours from York University (2010), and is the recipient of the VANL-CARFAC Emerging Artist of the Year Award (2014), the Louis Odette Award for Sculpture, and the EJ Lightman Sculpture Award. Their projects have been supported by The City of St. John's, ArtsNL, and the Canada Council for the Arts.
Kai works independently and in various collaborative partnerships, as well as with their drag collective the Phlegm Fatales. They are a regular performer at drag, art and circus events throughout the city of St. John’s. They love large bodies of water, puzzles, and puns.