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Soft & Hard

Celebrating the Humorous in Contemporary Video Art by female artists


Nov 18, 2010 – January 10, 2011

For its fall show at the Pacific Design Center, Young Projects will be focusing on the nature of humor in the realm of video art with a particular focus on female artists. The show features the work of Tamy Ben-Tor, Melanie Bonajo, Harry Dodge & Stanya Kahn, Deven Green, Nadia Hironaka, Desiree Holman, Susi Jirkuff, Julie Lequin, Marie Losier, Jillian McDonald, Ashleigh Nankivell, Trine Lise Nedreaas, Laura Nova, Dafna Axel, Elaine Carroll, Pat Oleszko and Catherine Ross.

These works represent a range of methodologies and styles, from straight narratives to the elliptical; from classic animation to collage. What they all share is an interest in the comedic—whether nuanced or overt—which has long tradition within avant-garde circles. For such artists, humor, when introduced into a gallery or museum setting (where it has long been frowned upon), is an effective device for breaking down hierarchies of taste, questioning notions of value, and in the Bakhtin sense, providing a much needed release from daily struggles and the stuffiness of institutional settings. Humor after all, is a form of confrontation, and thus belies a certain level of aggression. For Claire Bishop, it’s that very same aggression—ever questioning, never satisfied with the status quo—that is part and parcel of the democratic model, and indeed, absolutely essential to its health. What’s more, it’s that same sensibility of distanciation and antagonism that fuels some of the most important, and relevant, works of art. That same sensibility lies at the root of Soft & Hard .In terms of the cultural landscape, men have generally provided the models of rebellion and discord for the public at large. (Even within the realm of “humorous art”, male figures such as Maurizio Cattelan, Richard Prince John Bock and Guy Ben-Ner still get the most attention). But as Maude Lavin suggests in “Push Comes to Shove,” that has changed dramatically in the past decade. “From action heroines, to mainstream sports movies, from street activism to national political figures, there exists now, and for the first time in US history, a growing, heavily viewed, array of positive representations of aggressive women.”

Sound is also a key element in most of the videos in Soft&Hard, whether it’s a particular use of dialog, sound effects or music. In each case the sound tends to dictate, and often eclipse, the course of the visuals. We are of course, living in an age of accelerated communication and miscommunication—where words or phrases can be read out of context and misinterpreted with disastrous results. Thus sound deserves equal recognition with image in terms of its value as a subject.

The women in Soft & Hard come from different parts of the globe, and often from different generations, yet they all share a number of commonalities. Aside from working in a post-911 milieu, they often use their work to explore issues of the domestic and the personal—often through surrogates, hand-made costumes and comical, or mocking characterizations. Others point to more public representations, whether political or pop-cultural, while others still focus on nature as a central theme, or more pointedly, the monstrous. In each case, ideas about power tend to define the subject matter.


Works Included:


Lobby Area


1a: Installation (Drum set, DVD and flatscreen)

How to Sting, 2010, Laura Nova (3 mon loop)


1. (TV in the window)

Two Lips, 2001, Laura Nova (1: 30 min loop)


2. (4:3 Projection)

How to Make a Baby, 2008, Jemima Burrill (3 min loop)


3. (2 Stacked TVs)

Crying on Cue, 2000, Laura Nova ( 2 min loop)


4. (40” TV)

Gewald, 2009, Tamy Ben-Tor (9 min loop)


5. (5 Flatscreens on Shelf, Right to Left)

A. Sucker Sense, 2010, Ashleigh Nankivell (approx 3 mins)

B. To the Heart of a Woman, 2004, Trine Lise Nedreaas (approx 6 mins)

C. Horror Make-Up, 2006, Jillian McDonald (approx 6 mins)

D. Troglodyte, 2009, Desiree Holman (7 mins)

E. Reservoir Dogs, 2009, Dafna Axel (approx 1 min)


Main Room


6. (40” TV)

The Screaming, 2007, Jillian McDonald (approx 6 mins)


7. (Large Projection Screen)

A. Let the Good Times Roll, 2004, Harry Dodge & Stanya Kahn (courtesy the artists) (approx 12 mins)

B. Car Talk, 2009, Julie Lequin (approx 8 mins)


8. (32” Sony TV [Silver])

A. Tony Conrad, Dreaminimalist, 2008, Marie Losier (approx 12 mins)

B. Bette Midler’s Mondo Beyondo, 1988, Pat Oleszko (approx 9 mins)


Mid Area


9. (4:3 Projection to the Right)

Forget Me Not 1, 2004, Trine Lise Nedreaas (2min loop)


10. (16:9 Projection to the left) (approx 12 min loop)

A. Pfft, 2009, Catherine Ross

B. Trilling, 2006, Catherine Ross


Back Rooms


12. (flatscreen tv in hallway)

PDA (Parental Display of Affection), 2009, Laura Nova (1 min loop)


12. (Smaller back room, far left side)

A. Hello, 2009, Deven Green (approx 3 mins)

B. This is How We Do, 2005, Susanne Jirkuff (approx 3 mins)

C. Cheating, Very Mary Kate, 2010, Elaine Carroll (approx 3 mins)


13. (Large projection, back room, far right side)

A. Diversion, 2009, Melanie Bonajo (appox 8 mins)

B. Remote Control, 2001, Susanne Jirkuff (approx 6 mins)

B. Hippy Party, (from Post-Revolutionary Selections from the Powell House Moving Image Archive, 1888-2089), 2010, Nadia Hironaka and Matthew Suib (approx 6 mins)

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