Filmmaker Laurel Nakadate challenges our voyeurism – or maybe she’s just a narcissist.
WE ARE ALL MADE OF STARS: RECENT VIDEOS BY LAUREL NAKADATE Rating: NNNN
Laurel Nakadate's videos, which she's been producing since 2000, appear to deconstruct male conceptions of sexuality and power from a female perspective by placing the vivacious, frequently underdressed artist in a room with a middle-aged man and inviting us to watch her taunt him with her hotness.
But it's just as possible to argue that Nakadate's videos actually reinforce male ideas of sexuality and power by placing her in a series of submissive sexual situations. Sure, she's always looking directly at the camera, but is she challenging our voyeurism by meeting our gaze, or just too much of a narcissist to engage the other person in the frame with her?
Is Nakadate mocking Britney Spears's self-exploitation when she dances with older men to Oops... I Did It Again in 2000's video triptych Oops? Or is she just dancing?
Does the 2004 project Love Hotels - for which she travelled to Japan and mimed various sexual positions with an invisible partner in a series of by-the-hour accommodations - represent an inquiry into the intensely personal nature of coitus, or is it just artistic masturbation?
How about Where You'll Find Me, a series of clips in which a half-naked Nakadate imagines her own lonely death in a dozen different ways? Does the amateurish conception of her various suicides by gunshot point to a childlike innocence, or just a lack of interest in props?
And what does it say about the artist that she uses the smouldering cityscape of Lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001, as a backdrop for her standard staring-at-the-lens pose in We Are All Made Of Stars?
I have no idea.
And after reading a 2006 interview with Nakadate in The Believer, I'm not sure she does either. But I do enjoy trying to think it through.
Screens Saturday (October 11) at Latvian House as part of Pleasure Dome's A Lower World: Excesses And Extremes In Film And Video.