What first comes to mind are lifelike sewn dolls, strange enchanting freaks. Glamorous, gender defying creatures posed in the most bizarre otherworldly window sets. Nan Goldin’s and David Wojnarowicz’s muse first became known through actual East Village window displays, the major focus of her work being on gender issues, sexuality and self-discovery.
Born male in Flint, Michigan in 1958, she began creating dolls as a child and had sexual reassignment surgery at the age of 21, while studying at Pratt. It didn’t take long for her to acquire a well deserved status in the art world. Her incredibly powerful and surreal window displays at East Village clothing boutique “Einstein’s”, as well as her living with Nan Goldin and frequently posing for her quickly turned her into a star in the art world and an important figure in the history of the East Village art scene of the eighties and early nineties.
After a long battle with drug addiction and anorexia, Greer Lankton eventually became sick. She died on November 18, 1996 of a drug overdose in her Chicago apartment, just a month after completing her final and largest work titled “It’s All About Me, Not You”, which has become a permanent installation at the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh.
The importance of her work as an artist is immense. Always emotionally charged, her surreal shrines of versions of herself, or Candy Darling among many others, constitute a world of her own, occupied by transgender and fearless women –much like herself, extremely fat or extremely thin, circus people and icons—anything on the margins of society. Her strange idols, beautifully sewn, extravagant and grotesque, emphasize on body and sexuality in a way so immediate and bold that they still seem to be challenging and inspiring forward pushing art of today.
And in this sense, as an inspiration and endless resource, Greer Lankton might actually be an artist’s artist. The number and names of artists she collaborated with is kinda speaking for itself, including Nan Goldin, Peter Hujar, David Wojnarowicz, David Armstrong, among others. The mark her art and her personality has left on contemporary culture and art is indisputable, being one of the pioneers to blur the lines between folk, pop and fine art and explore gender and body representation in ways it hadn’t been thought possible before.
Article by A. A.
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