Laurel Nakadate

Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects

For viewers who have struggled to untangle the wicked snarl of contradictions that animate Laurel Nakadate’s provocative and polarizing oeuvre, the artist’s recent show—her debut at Tonkonow and her first solo exhibition in New York since 2006—suggested one possible solution. A number of the works in “Fever Dreams at the Crystal Motel” are meant, according to their titles, to be thought of as “exorcisms.” Incongruous ecclesiastical overtones aside, this notion of a battle with tormenting spirits, taking place along a continuum from the ecstatic to the psychotic, does provide a useful way to think about the simmering sociosexual tensions that have fueled Nakadate’s projects of the last half-decade, as well as to process the states of emotional extremity and moral ambivalence that they not only depict but, to their credit, also manage to stir in viewers.

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