Skip navigation

Kate Murphy

Author 
Andrew Frost

For Kate Murphy video is a form of expanded documentary. Using multiple cameras to capture children, adults and elderly people in various situations — and to use the intimacy of the compact video camera to capture frank confessions and interactions from her subjects — Murphy then presents her video works in a variety of multi-screen installations. Prayers of a Mother (1999) was a synchronised five-screen installation piece that featured, on one screen, an elderly woman reciting particular prayers for her children, each prayer selected for each individual child’s specific failings and problems. On the other four screens were images of the four children listening to the mother. The intimate closeness of the camera produced revealing and sometimes humorous tableaux of familial tolerance — and annoyance. Britney Love (2000), Whispering Thunder (2001) and PonySkate (2004) used similar techniques to investigate the hermetic world of children, their love of dance and pop stars, their desires and dreams.  

Joe Hill (2003), a two screen work, offered a heart-breaking scene of an old man listening to a recording of the title song, while on the other screen, he sings the song himself. The feel of the piece is elegiac, and indeed it is revealed that the video is intended by the subject to be played at his funeral. Murphy’s use of multiple cameras often gives her subjects the ability to record, such as in Joe Hill, while a second camera is operated by the artist, underscoring the condition of the observation. Leaving Together (2005) which records the departure of an elderly married couple from their home with back packs and a video camera, was a slightly unnerving portrait of fragility, a sense reinforced by the screening of the completed video on a large screen in an underground train station.

The most recent work by Murphy – such as Rehearsal (for Saint Vitus) (2007) — has continued these creative processes and interests while making intriguing side trips into self portraiture. Cry Me A Future (Dublin) (2006) presents a shot of the artist in festive red paper hat and headphones listening to a psychic describe the artists hope and dreams, and possible future, as her face quickly becomes stained with tears. On a happier note, Murphy’s I’ve Been To Paradise (2002) saw the artist lip synching to Never Been To Me, and, while it was perhaps intended as a critique of pop clips, the video was a revealing self portrait of the artist. 

Date 
b. 1977
Birth place
Queanbeyan, NSW, Australia
Period of activity 
from 1999
Selected works
Selected events
Pony Skate, – from PonySkate, via Vimeo 
Prayers of a Mother, – from Prayers of a Mother, via Vimeo 
Kate Murphy, I've been to paradise. Digital video still. Courtesy the artist and BREENSPACE, Sydney. © Kate Murphy, 2002
Kate Murphy, I've been to paradise. Digital video still. Courtesy the artist and BREENSPACE, Sydney. © Kate Murphy, 2002 – from I've been to paradise 
Britney Love (2000) excerpt, – from Britney Love, via Vimeo 
Kate Murphy, Yia Yia’s song. Digital video still. Courtesy the artist and BREENSPACE, Sydney. © Kate Murphy, 2010
Kate Murphy, Yia Yia’s song. Digital video still. Courtesy the artist and BREENSPACE, Sydney. © Kate Murphy, 2010 – from Yia Yia’s song 
Britney Love, – from Britney Love (2007), via Vimeo 
Assembly (2009) excerpt, – from Assembly, via Vimeo 
Kate Murphy, Count me in, 2009, – from Count me in, via Vimeo 
Kate Murphy, The note, 2010, – from The note, via Vimeo