Nov 17, 2006

A tertiary use for a curling iron [LINK]

That is, its stated use is secondary, while its role in a thought-provoking work of art is tertiary. This is from a notice, by the Village Voice's R.C. Baker, concerning a showing by Laurel Nakadate at New York's Mary Boone Gallery:

Part of the group show "Heartbreaker," Nakadate's excruciating video is a faux-autobiographical snuff film. The artist went to the apartments of various men to act out twisted fantasies: She becomes a salacious model, bending and twisting for her beefy director; through cans connected by a string, another man promises to tie her up and says he wants to stick a curling iron in her ass. Sometimes she wields a gun, ordering her co-stars to beg for their lives. And then there's the scene in which she pretends to shoot herself--as she writhes on the ground in slow motion, blood squibs dribbling, her death throes elicit applause from leather-clad bikers.
Based on her similar "standout" showing at 2005's "Greater New York" exhibition, fellow Village Voice critic Jerry Saltz identified an obligatory feminist undercurrent to Nakadate's work:
On the Heterosexual planet men rule through a combination of upper-body strength, institutionalized discrimination, hogwash, and sheer arrogance. Women are always in danger. Nakadate isn't, at least not in her work. She clearly chooses her subjects as carefully as they choose her. She could never do this with "normal" predators. If a young male artist preyed on women this way he'd risk being kicked out of the art world. Either way, Nakadate exploits female sexuality as ruthlessly as any man.

In Where You'll Find Me she acts out suicide scenarios. We see her "dead" in various locales. Here, Nakadate represents primal neediness, the fantasy of "They'll know how much they love me when I'm gone." Then out of nowhere and completely anomalously, she suddenly comes close to the camera, looks from side to side, pulls her shorts to the left, stands, and pees while looking directly at you. It's weird and very feral. In Love Hotel, a similarly narcissistic and conflicted caprice unfolds as Nakadate writhes almost naked on various beds. As alone and pitiable as the men, she's seeing what she would look like if she could actually be with a real person. It's onanistic exhibitionism, very peculiar, strikingly devoid of real feeling, and disquieting.

And so on... If you happen to swing by the Mary Boone Gallery to catch the "Heartbreaker" show (until December 16), here's some information on the other artists' work:
Rashawn Griffin's sculptural installation "Untitled (fort)", 2006, is composed of bed sheets, stained blanket scraps, found fabric, orphan socks, a pillow, and a stuffed toy. Like a child's blanket fort, or an abandoned shelter, Griffin's work is melancholic, offering up fragments of a personal albeit nameless history that encourages reflection of our own past....

Kate Gilmore is the sole protagonist of a dangerous line-up of hilariously reckless performances. Assuming the roles of many different female stereotypes, Gilmore creates makeshift environments that act as sets and props for a mélange of wacky riffs on daily life. In the sixteen-minute video, "Heart Breaker", 2004, Gilmore, dressed in her Sunday best, takes an ax to a larger-than-life-size heart made from scraps of plywood. With each swing, fake blood oozes down the side and splashes her hair, face and pretty dress. In "With Open Arms", 2005, a six-minute video, Gilmore wears a lilac cocktail dress, flashes a beaming smile and spreads her arms out wide to signal the denouement of an imaginary performance. The invisible audience responds by hurling tomatoes at her face. With each repeated gesture, the intensity of the pummeling escalates, but Gilmore retains her smile.

...as do we all.

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