Laurel Nakadate gave an artist talk at the Goldman-Schwartz Art Studio on Feb. 3. The standing-room-only presentation included overviews of Nakadate’s various projects and artistic endeavors, as well as a brief Q&A. 

Nakadate is a photographer, filmmaker, video and performance artist. She received a BFA from Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and an MFA in photography from Yale University. 

The presentation began with a showing of “Oops!,” Nakadate’s 2001 video project. During her time at Yale, the artist explained, she felt a deep sense of loneliness that led her to walk around New Haven, finding strangers who were willing to make videos with her. The end result was a montage of Nakadate performing a choreographed dance to Britney Spears’ 2000 hit “Oops! ... I Did It Again” with various older, single men in their homes. Some danced with her, some stood still. Nakadate explained that showing this piece in her graduate program critique was a very risky and strange choice at the time. She advised students to push themselves to make work that takes them outside of their comfort zones. 

Nakadate presented several other video projects during the talk, including “Happy Birthday,” a series of clips showing Nakadate pretending to have a birthday party with her and the men from her earlier project, “Oops!.” She also presented “Where You’ll Find Me,” a 2005 project in which she staged death scenes in unexpected locations including on top of a bald eagle statue and in front of Mount Rushmore, and her first feature film “Stay The Same Never Change,” which focuses on the everyday lives of men and girls in a small midwestern town. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009 and went on to win several awards and be added to the collection at the Museum of Modern Art. 

The presentation also included several of Nakadate’s photography projects. The first photograph discussed was entitled “Trouble Ahead, Trouble Behind,” a project for which she traveled across the United States and Canada, tossing a pair of her underwear off the train each day and photographing it. Nakadate explained that she had faced “incredible slut shaming” after having used herself as the subject of her work, and that this project was a response to that and a reflection of her wanting incorporate herself into the work, but in a more non-direct way. Another photo project, entitled “Lucky Tiger,” entailed the artist photographing herself in underwear and crop tops in various locations and asking men to talk about her body while dipping their fingers in ink and putting them on the photographs. 

Nakadate is currently working on a project that entails visiting every house her late mother ever lived in and making videos with their current occupants.