Observing how the differences between cinematic, personal and political modes of behavior have collapsed, Liz Magic Laser develops performance-based scenarios that examine the fluidity of the boundaries between mediums. Her work aspires to dismantle rhetoric and reveal the mechanisms at work behind it, with the aim to explore: “a display of an authentic self.” Though Laser assumes multiple roles in her projects – writer, director, editor, camera operator, photographer – she identifies herself as a filmmaker working in the montage tradition.
In Laser’s performances, the actors, cameras and audience members are all forced to be complicit. Originally commissioned by Performa, I Feel Your Pain (2011), a project in which a movie theatre bears witness to a series of staged conversations conducted within the audience. The dialogues between the performers are appropriated from exchanges made by politicians and recontextualized through Laser’s direction. Every adapted exchange reflects the theatricality of the original interview, which despite being politically charged resembled a domestic dispute.
“The title I Feel Your Pain is a quote from something Bill Clinton said to Bob Rafsky during his presidential campaign,” Laser notes. “As I watched the interview, I saw that the relationship between the journalist and the politician was either one where the journalist was acting in almost flirtatious manner or was antagonistic and scornful. Both cases fall into tropes from popular film of the romantic relationship.In its prevalence today, the interview has often become a site where public life is supplanted by sentimentality, personal disclosure and political demagoguery. My recent work aspires to put these operations on display and in so doing to restore some of the interview’s early democratic potential. Rather than offering the “reality” behind public life and public lives, the interview could become a space where people are challenged and transformed.”
Liz Magic Laser lives and works in New York City. She is a graduate of the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program and Columbia University’s MFA program. Her work has been exhibited internationally at venues including Mälmo Konsthall, Mälmo, Sweden (2012); Swiss Institute with Forever & Today, Inc., New York (2012); The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2012); the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (2012). She is a current resident at the Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation Space Program, New York and has been a resident at Forever & Today, Inc.‘s Studio On The Street artist-in-residence program, New York (2012), Smack Mellon, Brooklyn (2011) and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, New York (2009). Laser is the recipient of grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship (2012), the Times Square Alliance and the Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art (2010) and will be the Armory Show 2013 Commissioned Artist. Liz Magic Laser is her real name.