INSIDE THE ATELIER
In a new department for Patron, Justine Ludwig takes a looks at the practice of artists living and working in
the area. Here she explores K. Yoland’s past work, current projects, and creative space at UTD’s CentralTrak.
BY JUSTINE LUDWIG
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SHAWN
n 2012, K. Yoland relocated from London to Marfa, Texas, to
take part in a four-month residency with Marfa Contemporary.
Through a series of unexpected opportunities, Yoland has
remained in Texas—first recruited by Marfa Public Radio to
produce and host an arts and culture interview program, then as
a coordinator for Fieldwork: Marfa. Yoland is now a resident at
Central Trak in Dallas.
Here, Yoland addresses dynamics surrounding immigration,
land rights, and cultural identity. She draws influence from the rural
Texan landscape, with its deserts and seemingly endless horizons.
These environments have become stages for her photographs and
performances. She has also found inspiration in her proximity to
the Mexico-United States border. In her 2013 video Military Cut, a
US soldier receives a buzz cut on ranch-land. The surroundings are
iconic, mythic America—endless blue sky dotted with painterly
clouds, sparse vegetation, a minimalist fence, and a dusty road.
The soldier and his barber sit at the edge of the road, taking part
in this mundane act as English subtitling appears at the bottom of
the screen. The script comes from an unknown narrator discussing
an alien race observing the planet Earth. This narrative echoes the
complex relationship between territories and national identities as
played out along the US-Mexico border.
In a related series of works created between 2013 and 2014,
stretches of faded red paper are photographed either alone in the
landscape or with passive human interaction. This prop serves as
a visual stand-in for territorial divisions often used in cartography,
while also being eerily reminiscent of a freshly inflicted physical
scar. In other images from the same series, Yoland employs
tumbleweed as human stand-ins—placed within the landscape or
wrapped in various materials. Tumbleweed, while seen by many
as being quintessentially Texan, are not indigenous to the region,
but are rather Russian transplants. Yoland draws upon this origin
and casts the tumbleweed as actors signifying otherness. They
become foreign intruders as they unassumingly roll across the
Currently, Yoland is based at CentralTrak, The University
of Texas at Dallas’s Artist’s Residency. Her studio, which also
serves as her home, is filled with images from which she draws
inspiration—newspaper clippings, famous paintings, and maps.
This visual archive is strongly reflected in her work. Yoland
understands the power of familiar imagery, often adopting
language established by the media—repeated images, pointed
titling, and hyperbole.
In her studio, lying on a table are 12 prints, each taken from a
single news image. This series, titled X Steps Removed, is comprised
of increasingly obscured iterations of an image depicting two
boys carrying an unidentified object through the rubble of Gaza.
The source photograph, appropriated from a BBC website, means
to tug at the viewer’s heartstrings without depicting actual acts
of violence. With no given narrative attached to the image, the
backstory is left to the individual. All we know is that this is
documentation of Palestinian and Israeli armed conflict. Yoland
has taken the image and blurred it in increments until the subject
disappears and only a grey square remains. The work questions
K. Yoland, Military Cut, video-performance, West Texas, USA, 2013. Courtesy of the