Controversial artist Laurel Nakadate, launched into London last month at the Zabludowicz Collection with her exhibition of provocative works accumulated over the last ten years.
Influenced by artists such as Miranda July, it is easy to see why Nakadate has come up against some stiff criticism lately, questionning the unusual ideas and morality of much of her earlier work.
Similar to July, Nakadate tests the audience’s level of comfort with her video series involving various men she’d met in often risky, sexually charged and bizzarre scenarios.
These videos range from both staged and documentary style and are all displayed on individual synched screens around the gallery to view.
Although condemned by some for her lack of ethics, picking for the majority, lonely, awkward and thus, vulnerable men or teenagers, it is Nakadate who often turns to the camera to reassure her audience, her participants and herself, that she also to an extent vulnerable and maybe more importantly, real, in her constructed make believe scenarios.
Also available to view is her latest venture, 365 Days: A Catalogue of Tears, which sees Nakadate move away from audience participation, deciding to photograph herself crying everyday of the year as an experiment into emotions.
Displayed on the upper level of Zabludowicz’s walls, we journey through the seasons as well as Nakadate’s tears, facing rain, sun, snow and more frequently, her own naked body.
Nudity and exposure, a strong theme running through the majority of her art, interestingly works. Nakadate challenges and reclaims the sexual connotation of her body, and utilises it as a tool to create a positive representation of womanhood and modern feminism.
Less heavy and digestable, Nakadate’s collection also includes a series of photographs titled, Star Portraits which feature a number of women close to herself photographed with just the aid of a strong flash. Again ideas surrounding identity and perspective are raised as she notes the first time she really saw these women was at the point the photograph was taken. Nakadate once more, like July’s work, uses the unreal to represent the real, exposing more in these staged set ups than we could achieve trying to be “real”.
Themes of vulnerability, feminism and gender roles the collection boasts of are most definitiely explored and for the majority, effectively challenged. The only criticism I have is that sometimes these are depicted in such a fantastical way that although this might be an effective way to highlight sensitive themes without falling into the trap of subverting them, on occasions for me maybe misses the point and returns back to fantasy.
Still, Nakadate’s collection at the Zabludowicz is touching, funny, moving and brave. Fitting in and building upon a recent move towards sincerity in art.
Running till 11th December, I suggest you don’t miss it.