“The Passion Of Kim Kardashian” Comes To Bushwick

June 17, 2014 | Sophie Weiner

New York based designer Hannah Kunkle creates elaborate Photoshop depictions of Kim Kardashian in what she sees as Kim K’s natural role: God.

Kim Kardashian is a strange avatar for our times. She represents a mainstream beauty ideal without being skinny or white. Through her reality show, millions have come to view her as relatable, “normal,” someone they could be friends with if given the chance. Yet, her family is obscenely rich, floating effortlessly above the financial anxieties that so many Americans face. Regardless, millions tune in to watch her family go about their business, closely observing Kim’s every move, as if she was a deity.  In Kunkle’s vibrant and sometimes hilarious creations, Kim inhabits a diverse array of divine roles: one moment she’s Krishna, the next she’s a Satanic priestess. These portrayals feel strangely viable, as if her secret identity as shaman is just waiting to be exposed.

Kunkle began posting these images on Instagram out of pure boredom, but the project got the attention of a friend at VICE and evolved into “The Passion of Kim,” which went on display last week at the new Bushwick arts space Palisades. Her glossy, square prints lined the walls, while an altar displayed prayer candles bearing Kim’s visages. Going for only $10, the candles were quickly bought up.

“I want to do graphic design as fine art,” Kunkle told ANIMAL outside the venue as the J train continually rattled above us. “I ended up getting a really corporate job, and I would come over late because I was hung over and stay super late by myself, fucking around in photoshop and making my own artwork.”

Kunkle’s relationship with Kim K is tumultuous, despite her adoration, and she’s still figuring out how it fits in with her love of feminist icons. “I’m always defending her all, all the time. I think I probably defend her every day. I actually do like her, which I feel like I’m not supposed to, I feel like it’s supposed to be irony. I know I shouldn’t love her, but I do love her,” she says. “I’ve been obsessed with Courtney Love to absurd degrees since I was twelve years old. In fact in my room right now I sort of have a Courtney Love shrine. She is my idol, I love everything about her. Same with Kathleen Hanna, Patti Smith, Joan Jett… But I love Kim Kardashian. It’s kind of unexplained, in my  own head I don’t really get it. Why do I like her so much? I really identify with her. She’s such what we’re not supposed to identify with as ladies.”

There are a few clues Kunkle untangles to explain her devotion, “I’m a thick girl and I’m not the whitest chick ever. I like that they’re babes and that’s what makes them babes. They have fat asses and big tits and they’re Armenian.”

In the future we can expect more work from Kunkle on the themes of private lives make public. “I have a really insane interest in voyeurism,” she says. “I check Craigslist missed connections every single day. Until my last laptop got stolen I had 600 saved screenshots from missed connections.” What is Craigslist if not one big reality show?

Kunkle is firm on one point. When asked how Kim’s husband Kanye West’s declaration of his own divine nature jives with her take on things, she doesn’t even let me finish: “She is God. God is a lady, man. He just got a plus one.”  (Images: Hannah Kunkle via Vice, Photo: Sophie Weiner/ANIMALNewYork)