Video Viewing Room: Lauren Bakst

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Lauren Bakst

after summer, or not in the kitchen (the bed, the bathroom, the dance floor and other spaces)

Lauren Bakst was in residence through The Kitchen at Queenslab from October–December 2019 developing after summer, or not in the kitchen (the bed, the bathroom, the dance floor and other spaces). The culminating performances took place December 11–14, 2019. Additional information about this project is available on the event page  and in this interview with the artist

This Video Viewing Room features a new video that relays two texts from the zine for after summer and an excerpt from the recording of the performance in December.

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“Being free is being alone?,” Héloïse asks Marianne in Portrait of a Lady on Fire. The recent film by Celine Sciamma is set in 1770, but it’s a question I’ve been asking myself in one form or another my entire life. As a baby, I cried in my mother’s arms just as much as I cried when left alone. Isn’t it as overwhelming to be in the most intense and intimate of bonds as it is to be with oneself?

In my “adult” life, I have oscillated between the desire to confirm my autonomy at one moment and lose myself in others the next. I used to think this back-and-forth was tied up in an imperative to assert my independence. As it turns out, independence is a myth, and I’m left with the more difficult and beautiful reality of inevitable entanglement.

Earlier this year, I read Chantal Akerman’s memoir My Mother Laughs, in which she writes so brutally and openly about her fear of the impending death of her mother, and the time they spent together in the last phase of her mother’s life. I read the memoir shortly after returning from an eight day trip with my mother—the most concentrated time we’ve spent together in years, if not since I was born. It was, at times, unbearable to be with her. My analyst says it is healthy to feel those flashes and pangs of hate toward the ones you love the most—that’s how you know you love them the most.

In recent weeks, I FaceTime with my mother every Sunday, and we talk about how work is going at the hospital. She is 69 but seems so much younger; she is working through a crisis and I think this makes her feel alive. Suddenly, the thought that I could lose her has become so much more present and potent. How to love my mother? Of course I love her, but how do I love her? Which is like asking, how to love at all? This relationship is the blueprint for all others. Akerman knew something very deep and true about this.

This is probably why Akerman’s 1978 film Les Rendez-vous d’Anna, and one scene in particular, has continued to stick with me. In the video below, you’ll hear me read two of five texts from a zine that accompanied after summer, or not in the kitchen (the bed, the bathroom, the dance floor and other spaces). The first text, “Mom,” reflects on this scene and a filmed reenactment of it that I created with my mother. Together, “Mom” and the second text, “Love Song,” animate something about that push-and-pull between autonomy and dissolution of self. Maybe, I am learning, it is possible to experience both at the same time.

The zine was beautifully designed and printed by Connie Yu. It includes a series of images: Aurore Clément and Magali Noël in Les Rendez-vous d’Anna, Chantal Akerman in La Chambre, my mom in bed during the shoot of our reenactment, and two photos by Donna Gottschalk—Sleepers (1970) and Revolutionary Women’s Conference (1970). I am thankful for the invitation from The Kitchen to revisit this material in a new light.

Lauren Bakst, April 2020

“Mom” & “Love Song”: two texts from the zine for after summer, or not in the kitchen (the bed, the bathroom, the dance floor and other spaces), 2019, presented by The Kitchen at Queenslab, December 11–14, 2019

Excerpt from after summer, or not in the kitchen (the bed, the bathroom, the dance floor and other spaces), 2019, presented by The Kitchen at Queenslab, December 11–14, 2019. Videography by Joseph Bacon and Iki Nakagawa

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Lauren Bakst is an artist and writer working through performance. Soon, she will begin pursing a PhD in English at the University of Pennsylvania, where she will be studying poetics, among other things.

Image: 1) Detail of the zine for Lauren Bakst,  after summer, or not in the kitchen (the bed, the bathroom, the dance floor and other spaces),2019. Presented by The Kitchen at Queenslab, December 11–14, 2019.

The Video Viewing Room series makes recent video works and archival performance recordings available online for one month at a time. This initiative revives The Kitchen’s longstanding Video Viewing Room—a dedicated space within our buildings from 1975 through the early 1990s. Functioning at first as a resource facility where visitors could watch their own tapes or view videos from The Kitchen’s archive and collection, in fall 1978 the Video Viewing Room began to feature curated programs of artists’ videos. To see a hand-drawn floor plan that shows where the Video Viewing Room was located within The Kitchen’s space at 59 Wooster Street circa 1984, click here.

Video Viewing Room: Lauren Bakst is made possible with the support of the NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund in The New York Community Trust; annual grants from Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation and Howard Gilman Foundation; and in part by public funds from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

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