Aaron Kunin is a poet who lives in Los Angeles. His recent book Grace Period is a collection of aphorisms, sketches, and fragments. He will join us to read some of his poems.
Following Aaron’s reading, we will host the Los Angeles premiere of Harry Dodge’s recent video, THE ASS AND THE LAP DOG (or Maladie du Pays). The title refers to a fable as told by Jean de la Fontaine. In this fable, the lap dog receives caresses when he rubs against his master, but when the ass tries the same action, he is abused and beaten. THE ASS AND THE LAP DOG focuses on similar problems of transposition, or of flawed translation—of being ill-equipped, untrained, displaced, not “passing”— proposed in part as a type of “homesickness” (“Maladie du Pays”).
The video explores such states via a series of heavily-edited monologues by performers, most of whom speak English as a second language. Each of the “interviewees” is taken to a site, and asked how it reminds them of home. Each responds with a confused examination of the site, ultimately confessing that it in no way makes them think of “home.” Perversely, each is then overcome by “a really clear concept of a video” they’d like to make, and suggests that they describe, on camera, the imagined video “instead.”
What follows is a set of absurd, mercurial, and linguistically complex monologues, all of them heavy with Dodge’s authorial idiom. These monologues (which include chatty and pragmatic rabid squirrels, an immense beige lark that morphs into a gigantic clitoris, and ebullient elves birthed breezily from Sigmund Freud’s cartoon butt) accrue into a weave of image-stories that play out in both the performers’ words and in our mind’s eye. The resultant phantasmagoria evokes a condition of hybridity, the space of the multiple and simultaneous: not quite flesh, not quite idea.
Harry Dodge, an artist living and working in Los Angeles, has exhibited at venues nationally and internationally including the 2008 Whitney Biennial, “Eden’s Edge” at the Hammer Museum, and “California Video” at the Getty Research Institute. Dodge is represented by Wallspace Gallery NY, and teaches at Calarts.