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The small exorcisms of Laurel Nakadate

Karin Laansoo (1-2/2010)

Karin Laansoo introduces the video art of Laurel Nakadate


Laurel Nakadate visited Tallinn in connection with the Estonian Academy of Arts conference Art, Image and Exploitation in February 18–19, 2010. We talked on the day after the conference, 12 hours before her flight. Nakadate is a young American video artist and photographer who in the past five years has placed herself firmly in the New York art scene. As a girl, raised in Iowa by her Japanese father, she arrived in New York just one week before September 11, 2001. Her 2005 solo exhibition Love Hotel and Other Stories, at the Chelsea gallery Danziger Project, achieved recognition with reviews in The New York Times, Village Voice and Flash Art. During the course of the five years following her debut, Laurel has not once slowed down. The word ‘impossible’ is definitely not part of her vocabulary. In her videos, Nakadate interweaves the real and the fictitious. She has received the greatest attention for her video series, in which a female artist, equipped with a camera, drops in on lonely older men in order to record a relationship born solely for the camera through playing out each other’s fantasies. The video clips form something like a video diary, and are simultaneously funny, uncomfortably personal and strange. They include scenes of dancing to Britney Spears, playing dead and dropping cough sweets into cola. It remains unclear who is exploiting whom, because the border between empathy and the exploitation of another person cannot be read unequivocally.

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