Video and performance artist Liz Magic Laser, whose work addresses the culture of contemporary politics and the politics of everyday life, will launch the 2012-13 Watkins Visiting Artists Series on Wednesday, December 5, at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film.
After a reception beginning at 6 p.m., Laser will discuss her career and creative process at 6:30 p.m. in the Watkins Theater. The event is free and the public is invited.
In her recent performance and video pieces, the New York-based Laser has endeavored to unsettle conventional expectations about both culture and politics in the increasingly mediated and commercialized public sphere. In these works, she has often restaged and re-contextualized political history and popular culture, and through this transformation, has frequently rendered them radically unfamiliar and subject to new interpretations.
“Liz Magic Laser captures the absurdity and Machiavellian spirit of today’s culture and politics as well as any artist I know,” said Watkins assistant professor of art history Tom Williams, who met Laser when they were both fellows at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. “I believe that her work is a supreme example of ‘art in dark times.’”
In her recent video performance I feel your pain, she commissioned actors to restage the emotional outbursts of contemporary politicians in the midst of a movie theater audience while cameras filmed them and live video of the performances appeared on the screen. For another work, entitled chase, she staged and documented a piecemeal production of Bertholt Brecht’s 1926 play Man Equals Man in the ATM vestibules of banks throughout New York City. In her video Service, Laser commissioned actors to perform a bizarre dinner party where the hosts feed their guests while spouting lines from Hollywood disaster movies (many of them eerily reminiscent of contemporary politics and real world events). These works stage collisions between public and private, between high-minded discourse and personal disclosure, and between political fictions and lived reality, and they perform radical revisions to the hackneyed scripts of everyday life.
Laser’s work has appeared at institutions such as MoMA PS1, The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, the Swiss Institute in New York, the Studio Museum of Harlem, and the Kitchen in New York, as well as in exhibitions such as the Performa Biennial 11 in New York, the Bienal de São Paulo in Brazil, and the Ljubljana Biennial in Slovenia. She received her MFA from Columbia University and is a graduate of the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. She is currently represented by Derek Eller Gallery in New York City.
The Watkins Visiting Artists Series is an annual yearlong program that welcomes nationally and internationally recognized fine artists, designers, filmmakers, educators and critics to the campus and the community. Through the generous support of the Memorial Foundation, this year’s series will present three lectures in the Watkins Theater plus an exhibition in the Brownlee O. Currey, Jr. Gallery.
Pictured at left: The performance work for chase was developed in collaboration with actors Annika Boras, Andra Eggleston, Gary Lai, Liz Micek, Justin Sayre, Doug Walter, Michael Wiener, Max Woertendyke and Cat Yezbak.
Cat Yezbak as the Widow Begbick (canteen proprietress) in Man equals Man at the Sixth Ave and W 18th St Branch of Chase, NY, NY, June 15th, 2009. Begbick sings about the flow of things in Scene 9, production still from chase video installation (145 min), digital c-print, 18 x 24 inches, Liz Magic Laser, 2009-2010.
Additional offerings in the 2012-13 Watkins Visiting Artists Series are:
• Thursday, March 7, 2013 – Chris Sickels, 3-D illustrator and animator, in conjunction with Visiting Artist’s Exhibition March 7–April 4
Lecture begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Watkins Theater, with reception immediately following for exhibition in the Brownlee O. Currey, Jr. Gallery
The creative force behind award-winning Red Nose Studio (Indianapolis), Chris Sickels creates 3-D illustrations, comprised of endearing characters and intricate sets (a combination of wire, fabric, cardboard, wood, miniatures and found objects, among other elements). His work appears in advertising, magazines, books, newspapers, packaging, character development and animation
• Thursday, March 28, 2013 – Harrell Fletcher, interdisciplinary artist [rescheduled visit from previous series]
Reception begins at 6 p.m., lecture at 6:30 p.m in the Watkins Theater
One of the most important artists working in social practice today, Harrell Fletcher has produced a variety of collaborative, multimedia projects since the early 1990s that frequently involve other artists and members of local communities. His work is often curatorial and interactive and, although it is typically playful, it almost always engages aspects of social and political life. Fletcher is currently Associate Professor of Art and Social Practice at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon.
The guest artists, whose work crosses many disciplinary boundaries, will give public presentations, sharing their expertise and perspectives on their careers and providing insight into issues facing contemporary artists and designers, as well as meet with relevant classes in which they will conduct a workshop and/or critique student work.
Updates to programming and future series guests will be posted to the Watkins website: Watkins.edu/VisitingArtistsSeries.
Watkins is located at 2298 Rosa L. Parks Boulevard in MetroCenter; free parking is available in the campus lot. For more information, visit Watkins.edu or call 615-383-4848.’
Key series participants from Watkins are Gallery Committee members Dan Brawner, professor and department chair of graphic design; Ron Lambert (committee chair), assistant professor of fine art; Meredith Eastburn, director of community education; Caroline Davis, director of external relations and assistant director of development; Van Flesher, professor and chair of the Film School; Brady Haston, assistant professor of fine art and studio facilities manager; Robin Paris, assistant professor and department chair of photography; and Tom Williams, assistant professor of art history.
(At left) Still from “Flight”, 2011, Liz Magic Laser with actors Nic Grelli, Elizabeth Hodur, Liz Micek, Michael Wiener, Max Woertendyke and Lia Woertendyke. Adapted for Times Square in New York City with support from the Times Square Alliance and the Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art on May 3rd, 6th and 7th, 2011.
(Below) Interior view, Forever & Today, Inc.’s Studio On The Street program with Liz Magic Laser, artist-in-residence, working in studio, 2012. Courtesy of the artist and Forever & Today, Inc.
The Watkins Visiting Artists Series is made possible through a grant from the Memorial Foundation. Watkins College of Art, Design & Film is supported in part by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission and the Tennessee Arts Commission.