Liz Magic Laser — Discours primal


Installation, sculpture, mixed media, video

Liz Magic Laser
Discours primal

Past: May 13 → July 30, 2017

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 se- veral 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

Liz Magic Laser (b. 1981, New York) is a video and performance artist based in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Kunstverein Göttingen, Germany (2016); Mercer Union, Toronto (2015); Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam, the Netherlands (2015); Various Small Fires, Los Angeles (2015); Paula Cooper Gallery, New York (2013) the Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster, Germany (2013); DiverseWorks, Houston, Texas (2013); and Mälmo Konsthall, Mälmo, Sweden (2012). Her work has also been shown at Swiss Institute (2016); Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland (2016); The Whitney Museum of American Art (2015); Le Mouvement: 12th Swiss Sculpture Exhibition ESS SPA (2014); Lisson Gallery, London (2013); the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (2012); the Performa 11 Biennial, New York (2011); the Biennial of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana, Slovenia (2011); and MoMA PS1, New York (2010). Laser is the recipient of grants from Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation (2013), the Southern Exposure Off-Site Graue Award (2013), New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship (2012) and the Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art (2010). Laser has upcoming solo shows at Jupiter Artland (Scotland) in May, 2017. She is represented by the Various Small Fires Gallery, Los Angeles and by the Wilfried Lentz Gallery, Rotterdam.

  • Opening Saturday, May 13, 2017 5 PM → 9 PM

    On the occasion of the first solo show in France of the American artist Liz Magic Laser, a free shuttle bus will be available. Departure from 104 avenue de France (75013 Paris) at 4.30 pm.
    Registration is required at

91 Essonne Zoom in 91 Essonne Zoom out

Espace Jules Verne
rue Henri Douard

91220 Brétigny s/Orge

T. 33 (0)1 60 85 20 78

Opening hours

Tuesday – Saturday, 2 PM – 6 PM
Late openings during the events at Théâtre Brétigny.

Admission fee

Free entrance

The artist

  • Liz Magic Laser