In her work, this poor girl who has so much she must force herself to feel unhappy every day, makes a mockery of real sadness. While writing this I’ve been talking with a good friend whose aunt just died, and who is attempting to comfort his beloved 92-year-old grandparents. Do we want to see the pictures? Try glamorizing that scenario.
Despite its weak theme, the installation is impressive: framed in white and hung gallery-style in symmetrical rows that march toward an archway, these richly colored photographs turn the high-ceilinged rooms into a semblance of a Renaissance palace, streamlined for the 21st century. What’s really sad is that without Nakadate moping in them, most of the images could stand on their own. It’s pathetic that, given the times, artists feel the necessity to overlay perfectly good photography with art school conceits. Plus, whatever happened to subtlety? There are more evocative ways to convey sadness than the cliché of someone in tears.
The other really sad part is that if Nakadate were to have made herself happy every day, the results might actually have been interesting—but “happy,” unfortunately, is not very arty.
My conclusion is that this girl needs a job! Her next “performance” should be one where she photographs herself 365 days a year working in a convenience store. Marina Abramovic she is not.
Installation view, Laurel Nakadate "Only the Lonely," courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, PS1.