Laurel Nakadate’s lastest exhibition is, in many ways, a far departure from dancing in her underwear in seedy apartments of old, bald strangers from the internet. Nakadate travelled thirty-seven thousand miles across thirty-one states to find her “Relations” — distant cousins of various racial backgrounds. One with a shotgun. One in a crib. All standing inside the glaring spotlight of a flashlight on a side of the road or in a clearing in the woods, the night skies rippling dramatically, as it does with long exposure. Then again, is it a departure? Are you closer to your theoretical 42-year-old NRA-member cousin in Omaha or “a stranger” from the internet for whom you made a special dance?
Unless you count the time Laurel Nakadate enlisted teenage girls and “teenage girls” to cry on YouTube for her and her feature films, this one of the very few projects where Laurel is refreshing not her own muse and star. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. “Strangers and Relations,” Laurel Nakadate, Leslie Tonkonow Gallery, May 11 – Jun 29, Chelsea