For Frieze 2016, Various Small Fires presents “Primal Speech”, an immersive mixed media installation produced for the fair by gallery artist Liz Magic Laser. Catharsis and manipulation merge into a vision of social discourse as palliative care.
Laser’s therapeutic video and environment guide viewers to express and exorcise their sociopolitical and personal frustrations. For the video Laser assembled a pseudo therapy group composed of actors with opposing political convictions about Brexit and the upcoming U.S. presidential election. Laser collaborated with Certified Professional Life Coach, Valerie Bell, trained in Primal Therapy techniques, to elicit connections between traumatic experience and political beliefs.
Upon entering the booth, the viewer encounters Laser’s futuristic version of a primal scream room with soft grey padded walls and therapeutic devices such as punching pillows and a screaming vase.
“Primal Speech” builds on Laser’s recent project, “Identification Please” for Kunstverein Göttingen, which used psychodrama techniques to facilitate a performative dialogue between a group of teenage refugees and German students. “Primal Speech” proposes the use of outrage to unearth one’s authentic voice and maximize its impact in a volatile world.
Laser’s Frieze Sounds commission will also have its U.K. premiere at the fair. In this related audio work, Nothing Special, Laser ventriloquizes the voices of Donald Trump and an investigative reporter in a philosophical dialogue that takes on the character of therapeutic ruminations.
Liz Magic Laser (b. 1981) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She received her MFA from Columbia University in 2008, in addition to attending the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture (2008) and the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program (2009). Most recently, Laser was the subject of solo exhibitions at Paula Cooper Gallery, NY; Various Small Fires, Los Angeles, CA; the Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster, Germany; DiverseWorks, Houston, TX; and Malmö Konsthall, Sweden. Her work has also been exhibited at Lisson Gallery, London, UK; the Moscow Museum of Modern Art; the Performa 11 Biennial, NY; The Pace Gallery, NY; the Biennial of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana, Slovenia; and MoMA PS1, NY. Laser is the recipient of grants from Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation (2013), the Southern Exposure Off-Site Graue Award (2013), New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship (2012), and the Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art (2010). She was the 2013 Armory Show Commissioned Artist and has held residencies at Recess, NY (2014), the Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation Space Program, NY (2012), Forever & Today, Inc.’s Studio On The Street artist-in-residence program, NY (2012), Smack Mellon, Brooklyn (2011) and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, NY (2009). Her work is in the permanent collections of The Whitney Museum, NY and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, San Diego, CA.