Frieze Art Film’s Petra Cortright Experiment: Fall In Love Here

10.21.13 Marina Galperina

“I threw up, literally. I was really excited, then my brain realized my face was in the TV in England and I was watching it from a hotel room,” Petra Cortright tells ANIMAL. “I felt really sick and threw up in the trash-can. I’m such a baby.” As one of the recipients of this year’s Frieze Film Grant — along with Peter Gidal, Patricia Lennox-Boyd, Oraib Toukan, and Erika Vogt — Petra made Bridal Shower at an EMPAC residency in August.

Petra Cortright’s Bridal Shower moves beyond her past Internet-based experiments to test new production values associated with broadcasting.

It’s the thing you didn’t see at Frieze but you can now, right here:

Make three minutes or less, Nicola Lees told Petra over Skype. At EMPAC, Petra felt it. It almost feels as if Petra was an experiment for the Frieze Film Grant.

“I never had a residency or a studio before. It was really insane nice,” Petra says. “The studio was massive and soundproof. I was blasting music at 4am ungodly loud and nobody could hear. I had 24/7 access. This place is stupid for technology. You can have anything you want! I requested nothing. They have never had someone who requested nothing.”

Unlike the artist’s minimal desires, the production value of the video was limitless: “They got so nervous because I just showed up with my Thinkpad and a webcam and was like, oh I’m good, thanks. They were like, don’t you need some fucking shit or something?”

“I’m just not used to having anything nice, so I was fucking cracked out on how fun this situation was.” Lighting, massive sound speakers, five computers, and then the huge windows with natural light and complete isolated solitude — Petra was overwhelmed to be in the perfect environment. “I was kind of high off the experience.”

Her self-portrait videos have always been mesmerizing, too likable to be a guilty pleasure, too DIY to be unattainable. This one is minimal, but something is blossoming, and it’s not just the beautiful colors of white (Is that a shirt) and red (Digital rose petals?). Is it Petra herself?

“Everything I was making was a banger. It was such a good environment to make videos. I really need to be alone when I make them and not thinking about anything, then the movements are super nice. It was super ideal. I made more videos in three weeks than I’ve made in, like, three years.”

The track is by Nightcore Girl.

“She had sampled this amazing 3d lesbian porn trailer. Actually, I recorded the vid to a Britney Spears remix, because I wasn’t thinking about ‘rights’ to songs. Yeah, we couldn’t afford that. I never think about that shit.” But that’s kind of the point. Not to think about shit. To ride the wave of interlaced associations — the porn track, the re-re-re-moshed seduction vibes, remixed, filtered, swooning.

It feels strange that an artist of her ilk that is accustomed to functioning on little sleep, little technical supplies, using what’s there — mostly, her own being — to make work, to seduce the viewer in an alternate state — is suddenly going big budget. They’re not hiding from the world, they’re given a beautiful cave to project their work out of. I suppose, this experiment is successful. Two more of all the videos Petra made at her summer residency will be released at her Steve Turner Contemporary gallery show on November 9th. Bridal Shower was made on day two.

“Are you trying to make me fall in love with you?” I had to ask.

“Haha. Yes. Final answer.”