To accompany the Video Station open call and commissioning programme for video works, Quote—Unquote presents a series of artists’ films and videos dealing with topics of speech and public speaking. A new work will be published online every two weeks between July and September 2020.
Liz Magic Laser’s mixed media installation Primal Speech constructs a futuristic version of a political primal scream room. The grey padded walls and therapeutic props such as pillows and stuffed animals based on political party logos, are punched or embraced in Laser’s adaptation of Primal Therapy methods demonstrated in a video embedded in the wall.
For the video Laser assembled a therapy group composed of actors with opposing political convictions about Brexit and the 2016 U.S. presidential election. She collaborated with certified professional life coach Valerie Bell, trained in primal therapy techniques, to “treat” the actors, encouraging them to revisit and conflate their personal histories with their political frustrations.
Developed by Arthur Janov in the 1970s, Primal Therapy was a radical approach that involved abreaction: the cathartic re-experiencing of a traumatic event. In this practice, the therapist coaches the patients to reenact scenes from their past and free themselves from the neurotic repetition of unhealthy behaviors. Laser adapts this palliative method of clarifying emotional expression to process recent political debates. The project elaborates on a theme central to Laser’s work: the appropriation of communication techniques and psychological methods appropriated by corporate and political cultures in order to revive their therapeutic potential.
Featuring actors Gisela Chípe, Armeliane Bindickou, Adam Davenport, Mari Hayes, Adele Jacques, Rhiannon Lattimer and Tom Staggs; Director of Photography: Chris Heinrich; Assistant Director: Hanna Lea Novak; Assistant Camera: Sam Krebs; Audio Engineer: Joe Quartararo; Audio Assistant: Trevor Hoar; Casting Assistant: Rachel Zaretsky; Editors: Liz Magic Laser and Ben Bernstein; Therapist’s script written in collaboration with Valerie Bell with contributions from Gisela Chípe. Produced with support from Various Small Fires, Los Angeles.
Liz Magic Laser is a multimedia video and performance based artist from New York City. Her work intervenes in semi-public spaces such as bank vestibules, movie theaters and newsrooms, involving collaborations with actors, surgeons, political strategists and motorcycle gang members. Her recent work explores the efficacy of new age techniques and psychological methods active in both corporate culture and political movements. Laser’s work has been shown at venues such as Kunsthalle Baden-Baden (2019); Metro Pictures, New York (2018) Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (2017); the Swiss Institute (2016); the Whitney Museum of American Art (2015); Lisson Gallery, London (2013); the Performa 11 Biennial, New York (2011); and MoMA PS1, New York (2010). She has had solo exhibitions at CAC Brétigny, France (2017); Jupiter Artland Foundation, Scotland (2017); Kunstverein Göttingen, Germany (2016); Mercer Union, Toronto (2015); Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam, the Netherlands (2015); Various Small Fires, Los Angeles (2015); Paula Cooper Gallery, New York (2013) the Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster, Germany (2013); and Mälmo Konsthall, Mälmo, Sweden (2012) among other places. She staged a daily performance and video installation at the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2018). Most recently she exhibited a major new commission, In Real Life (2019), an experimental reality show about online gig workers, at FACT, Liverpool, UK (2019).