Joshua Tree Artist, Kate McCabe

It sounds like a great idea…but how do I go about kidnapping myself? How do I get away from the everyday stresses that pile up so relentlessly? Just ask Kidnap Kate, AKA Kate McCabe, and she’ll tell you. “’Kidnap Yourself’ is the title of a He Said song I heard in 1986. The concept of those words stuck with me, and I interpreted it as being in charge of where you wanted to be. When I moved to the desert, I felt like I had done exactly that: kidnapped myself!”

Kate felt like a friend at first sight. We met when she debuted her film, Known Unknowns, at the Beneath the Desert Sky concert July of 2020, and clicked immediately. The film features 21 timelapse sunrises that all start in the dark and reveal something about the day, each sunrise with its own distinct soundtrack. The experience was a “chart-topping and a magical night,” – her words, but nonetheless true. The film is one of many she’s created over the years. Many of these have a dark approach to documenting landscape, like her short timelapse piece inspired by the Anthropocene and the unfolding Fukushima nuclear disaster, You and I Remain. Another example is a landscape film in the old secret police (Stasi) neighborhood of Berlin titled, There are No Shadows in East Berlin.

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Growing up in Philadelphia, Kate discovered her love for the arts through dance. Her mom got certified to teach dance when she was very young and encouraged Kate’s artistic nature. Dance and music were everywhere in her life. An art major in high school, Kate’s exposure to the photography dark room led her directly to film and animation in college. With an MFA in Experimental Animation from CalArts, she shares that everything connects back to dance for her, “Even when editing my own films, it feels like everything I do – photography, film, painting, or writing are all equally different, yet essential and connected parts of who I am, and music stays at the core of all this.”

Film is what ultimately brought Kate to the desert in 2004, when she worked with desert music legend, Brant Bjork, on a feature length visual album. Sabbia was released in 2006, won Best Music Video at the Chicago Underground Film Festival, and brought Brant’s desert to his fans around the world. Kate says about that first visit, “The hi-desert broke open my misconceptions. I had never truly seen the Milky Way until then, and I had what I can only call a ‘Carl Sagan moment’ when I saw the stars. I thought, ‘I’m made of that. I’m home now.’”

Since then, she has branched out into several different projects: from Friday night dance party shows to self-publishing four books of her Mojave Weather Diaries (now featured in local tome Luna Arcana), to her current focus, a book of photographs called Ghost O’Clock, shot over an 8-year period using a long exposure technique. She held a show at La Matadora in Joshua Tree the weekend of February 25 to showcase the book and new art inspired by Dazzle Camouflage, a form of camo used in WW1 on warships before radar was good. She also performs a DJ set at Red Dog Saloon in Pioneertown Sunday afternoons called, “Sunday Drive,” which continues to feed her love of music and bringing people together.

Want to catch a film but don’t know where? Missed the art show but want to pick up a piece?

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Or you can always kidnap yourself and take a Sunday drive to the Red Dog . Trust me, you’ll be glad you did!

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