press release only in german

One of the movie scenes that has impressed me the most over the last years features Julianne Moore, alias Havana Seegrand, struggling with her coach, Stafford Weiss, played by John Cusack, in David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars, which was adapted from the cult book by Bruce Wagner.

The woman is lying on her stomach on a gym mat, the man, positioned behind her, is directing her to scream to root out the anxiety and fears surrounding her past and present relationship with her mother, a famous actress who is deceased. We see the actress, her face streaming with tears, yelling out words of welcome to the ghost of a mother, “Mi casa es tu casa!”

The therapy mockingly practiced by Stafford Weiss is known as “Primal Therapy." Very popular in the 1970s and developed by the American psychologist Arthur Janov, the therapy involves helping the patient regress to her or his earliest childhood in order to produce a scream from this so-called primal period. Liz Magic Laser resuscitated this practice in its integrity in 2017, in the context of the American and French presidential elections.

In Primal Speech, Liz Magic Laser films a group of people confined in a padded isolation chamber. Directed by a coach, each of them looks within to delve deeply into the foundations of their connections with the male and female politicians who may potentially lead them. In a reversal akin to Deleuze & Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus, the artist lays bare our most subjective, infantile motivations as citizens.

Primal Speech continues the artist’s projection of our ambiguous and conflictual sociopolitical relations. The exhibition features several of her previous works either translated into French or dubbed for the event. My Mind Is My Own and The Thought Leader, performed by child actors, depict individuals using a range of personal development methods to engage in and critique popular forms of public speech. Several pieces show the system of oratorical expression codified by François Delsarte, a singer, teacher and theoretician of movement and voice in France. The exhibition is also conceived as a practical space where visitors themselves can get down to work and exercise their voices.

Discours primal is the American artist Liz Magic Laser’s first solo show in France.

–Céline Poulin