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Harvard Presents first solo Boston-Area exhibition of Laurel Nakadate's videos
Laurel Nakadate, still from Greater New York, 2005. Single channel video, 5:10. Courtesy Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, New York.

CAMBRIDGE, MA.- The Harvard Art Museums and the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts present Laurel Nakadate: Say You Love Me, an exhibition of eight videos by the artist, filmmaker, and photographer Laurel Nakadate, whose work pushes the boundaries of voyeurism, exhibitionism, and vulnerability. This solo exhibition—the artist’s first in the Boston area—will be held at the Carpenter Center’s Sert Gallery November 17 through December 22, 2011. There will also be a screening of her film The Wolf Knife (2010) at the Harvard Film Archive on November 18. Please note: The Sert Gallery will be closed for a private event on Saturday, November 19 and Sunday, November 20.

In her videos, Nakadate performs a Lolita-like role in a series of sometimes humorous, but frequently unsettling fictional vignettes with socially awkward, middle-aged men she meets through chance encounters. Her work references video art, but draws on social media in its resemblance to amateur videos on YouTube or the reality television format of putting strangers together under a certain premise and filming what unfolds. In the three-channel video Happy Birthday, the artist’s earliest piece made in 2000 when she was a graduate student at Yale, she sits quietly while three men earnestly serenade her and encourage her to blow out the candles on her cake. In Good Morning Sunshine (2009), Nakadate continues to exploit the unsavory yet titillating nature of interactions between older men and girls by voicing the role of a predator. Nakadate is always in control, whether in front of or behind the camera; yet her intention is not to make fun of her collaborators. Her videos are complicated but ultimately empathetic meditations on loneliness and longing.

Nakadate was born in Austin, Texas, and raised in Ames, Iowa. She received her BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/Tufts University in 1998, and received her MFA from Yale University in 2001. Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others. Laurel Nakadate: Only the Lonely, a 10-year retrospective, was recently on view at New York’s MoMA PS1. The artist’s first feature-length film Stay the Same Never Change premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009. The Wolf Knife, from 2010, earned nominations for a 2010 Gotham Independent Film Award and a 2011 Independent Spirit Award, and will have its Boston premiere at the Harvard Film Archive, on November 18 (see Exhibition Programming below).

Laurel Nakadate: Say You Love Me is curated by Michelle Lamunière, John R. and Barbara Robinson Family Assistant Curator of Photography in the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Harvard Art Museums.

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