Liz Magic Laser:
Tell Me What You Want to Hear
Liz Magic Laser’s live performances and videos often intervene in public spaces such as banks and movie theaters, and have involved collaborations with actors, dancers, surgeons, market research analysts, and motorcycle gang members. Tell Me What You Want To Hear is a video installation that explores story-telling methods and interview techniques employed by politicians and newsmakers to elicit public support. Utilizing the format of a political talk show, Tell Me What You What To Hear poses a dialogue between political experts, the television media, and the audience. As in her previous works, this project stages a live situation in which an audience becomes a character in the performance and resulting video. Stemming from an extended residency supported by DiverseWorks and a special academic course sponsored by the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication at the University of Houston, Laser’s project explores how performance has become integrated into everyday life via television media and politics. Dissecting the emotive strategies used by politicians and newsmakers, Laser exposes how factual information about the state of our political, social, and economic reality is theatrically presented to the public.
Laser’s collaborators in Tell Me What You Want To Hear participated in a series of workshops at Houston Media Source during Laser’s residency in February. These collaborators include Nick Anderson, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist; Shannon Buggs, journalist and Director of Communications for the University of Houston’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences; Felipe Campos, artist, producer, and educator; Maurice Duhon, realtor, former political candidate, musician, and reality TV personality; Lizette Garcia, Broadcast Journalism major at the University of Houston; Linda Lorelle, Emmy Award-winning journalist and former KPRC-TV news anchor; Sue Lovell, former Houston City Council member; and Mustafa Tameez, founder and managing director of Outreach Strategies, one of Texas’ leading public affairs firms.
Laser staged an interview-format television show, moderated by Shannon Buggs, in which the workshop participants become the subjects. They were asked to reflect upon their previous on-camera experiences, comparing times when they felt authentic to times when they felt manipulative. In a separate location, an invited audience watched and responded via live-feed video. Both performers and audience were videotaped and edited in real time by Keith Houk and Randy Polk’s communications students at University of Houston’s television studios. The resulting footage become the multi-channel video installation presented at DiverseWorks. The exhibition also included research materials and documentation of Laser’s residency.
Tell Me What You Want To Hear is an extension of Laser’s previous work focused on the relationship between the news media and the public, but marks a new direction by enlisting actual journalists and politicians to perform, rather than actors. This performance will further the potential for chance improvisation beyond her work to date. Rather than tightly scripting her performers, Laser works with newsmakers to perform rehearsed versions of themselves and elicit audience reactions.
About Liz Magic Laser
Liz Magic Laser lives and works in New York City. She is a graduate of the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program and Columbia University’s MFA program. Laser is the recipient of grants and awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship (2012), and the Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art (2010). Her work has been exhibited internationally at venues including Mälmo Konsthall, Mälmo, Sweden (2012); Swiss Institute with Forever & Today, Inc., New York (2012); The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2012); the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (2012); the Performa 11 Biennial, New York (2011); MoMA PS 1, New York (2010); Artisterium, Tbilisi, Georgia (2009); and the Prague Biennale 4, Czech Republic (2009). Gallery exhibitions include Derek Eller Gallery, New York (2012); Various Small Fires, Los Angeles (2012); The Pace Gallery, New York (2011); and Casey Kaplan, New York (2011). She is a current resident at the Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation Space Program, New York and has been a resident at Forever & Today, Inc.’s Studio On The Street artist-in-residence program, New York (2012), Smack Mellon, Brooklyn (2011) and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, New York (2009). Laser is the recipient of grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship (2012), the Times Square Alliance and the Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art (2010). Laser is the 2013 Armory Show Commissioned Artist. Liz Magic Laser is her real name from birth.
DiverseWorks is a VAN Partner of the Visual Artists Network (VAN). This project is made possible in part through support from the Visual Artists Network Exhibition Residency and the Visual Artists Network Community Fund, which are programs of the National Performance Network. Major contributors are the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Nathan Cummings Foundation. For more information: www.npnweb.org.
Tell Me What You Want to Hear is presented in collaboration with the University of Houston’s Jack J. Valenti School of Communication. Special thanks to Keith Houk and Randy Polk and their students.
Tell Me What You Want to Hear workshops were generously supported by the Houston Media Source. Special thanks to Tom Richards and James Danner.