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Artist Spotlight

Laura Larson:
City of Incurable Women

We are bringing you a curated selection of works from our current exhibition. This show includes selections from her ongoing projects City of Incurable Women and All the Women I Know.

Laura Larson Huddle 2019, Inkjet print, Edition of 5, Framed: 33 3/4 x 46 inches

City of Incurable Women draws its inspiration from multiple sources: archival images of female hysterics from the Iconographie photographique de la Salpêtrière, nineteenth-century hidden mother photographs, documentation of the Judson Group’s dance performances, historical and contemporary photographs of political protest. I’ve worked closely with Lucille Toth, a trained dancer and scholar whose work lies at the intersection of dance, literature, and the medical humanities, to script improvisational movement for my performers. I’m interested in how movement can telegraph complex and contradictory emotional states. For this work, I documented a group of women in a high school gym, performing choreographer Simone Forti’s work Huddle. The script for this piece calls for a group of performers to interlock their bodies in a closed circle. Each takes a turn, after disentangling from the group, crawling over the cluster of bodies who must adjust to support each performer’s climb. I saw in Forti’s work a way to imagine the relationships between the women of Pitié-Salpêtrière. In the historical photographs that inspired this project, the women are photographed as solitary patients. A generative question of City of Incurable Women was to imagine the relationships between the women: the knots of tenderness, competition, desire, acrimony, solidarity, and love between them. In this photograph, I stage the performers as a collective, rather than individuals, who must carefully negotiate the fragile, shifting construction of their bodies. The women appear tenacious and exhausted in their support of one another. I am interested in the emotional ambiguity of this puzzle of bodies. In their performance, I see the collective fight and fatigue I think many women are experiencing in the current political moment.

Laura Larson Dani 2018, Gelatin silver print, Edition of 3: 8 x 10 inches

Dani was the first portrait I shot for All the Women I Know. I’m interested in what it means to resist representation, to turn away from the camera, and the particular significance of this gesture when depicting a woman. I love the tattoo on her neck, S, the initial of her partner. It’s a piece of her history, written on her body.