by Eric Jones
Curator Peter Eleey’s review of Greater New York 2005 at P.S.1 labeled her early work as “disturbed videos of herself horsing around with dirty old men“ (Frieze 2005), and though the embodiment of dirty might be substituted for amazement, severe luck or edging, Nakadate’s staging of non-actors brings her work to this similar arena of reality television or gritty HBO documentaries.
In 2008, I saw her speak during the opening of Yerba Buena’s The Way That We Rhyme: Women, Art & Politics and this Yale graduate startled me with Beg for Your Life, a video series of herself holding a gun to older men’s heads asking them to beg for their lives. The multiple vignettes of these non-actors begging revealed how little they honestly felt threatened (one particular victim barely held back his giggling smile), or objectified for that matter.
In truth, these fantastical dates looked like a good time, then again, I was fresh from Colonize Me in which I was left alone in a room to strip completely naked and await my 2 minutes alone with Vaginal Crème Davis, so I realize mine was an acclimated palate.
Still, I am addicted to her audacity and humor: nude, bored-looking in roller skates while he sketches, dressed in cliché French maid uniform with a dog humping her leg and dance sessions with awkward and strangely loveable older men.
Within her work, among exploding 2 liter bottles of Pepsi and the illusion of naivety, I find the power every online, preteen girl asserts in anonymous flirtation without consequence. Unlike most, I do not see her as bravely going alone with these men because the camera so obviously makes her invincible. She’s indulging them second to her own ego.
Nakadate’s videos immediately draw me into reckless fantasy. With each scene, I earnestly await butterflies, a unicorn and rainbow bursts. Nakadate, a Lisa Frank for adult swingers (or anyone who can create a myspace page), is drunk with the power to cast and see herself in a multitude of roles with many, many men, and all the while knowingly leaving a viewer thinking: That can’t be real? Something of their difference in age and beauty leaves our characters un-marriageable even for a five minute clip.
With that said take your intergenerational internet friend offline and bring them to the Walker for the cheapest date in town on Target FREE Thursday Night. Laurel Nakadate will be present for interrogation or praise and she just might want to take you home for some art-making…
Eric Jones graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead with a BA in English and a minor in Women’s Studies. During the Republican National Convention, he worked at volunteer coordinator for Sharon Hayes’ Revolutionary Love 2: I Am Your Best Fantasy. In October, he received the Minneapolis FEAST grant for the still unfinished Party Bus. Just back from his SW drag tour American Gash: Wide Open Spaces, he will join other queer storytellers at the Bedlam Theatre for a Women’s Prison Book Project Fundraiser on April 10. He is currently working to co-present Come As You Are MPLS (a celebration of queer sex 40 years after Stonewall) with the Theater Offensive and Mixed Blood Theater on May 22. This and so much more may be found on his blog.