Throughout her career as an artist, Laurel Nakadate has interacted with strangers in her videos and photographs. She has met these strangers in many ways, including chance encounters at truck stops. Nakadate has often gone to these strangers’ homes to create her videos, throwing fake birthday parties or teaching them choreographed dances to Britney Spears. She would even go so far as to have them pretend to kill her. Her work is beautiful and dangerous.
In Strangers and Relations at Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, Nakadate interacts with a new type of stranger, her distantly related relatives. Through DNA testing, the artist contacted distant cousins about her maternal lineage. During their meetings, Nakadate learned about her family history and how diverse her family is. She then asked to take their portraits in the same fashion as her “Star Portraits” series. These photographs show the subject in a desolate area with a solitary flashlight on them. The long exposure captures a single moment in the subject’s life and has an otherworldly look to it. Though the subjects are related to Nakadate, the photographs still, in a way, reflect the self-portrait.
Strangers and Relations is on view through June 29 at Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, New York.