Metro Orange Line - Permanent Public Art Project
Valley College Station - 2005
As station artist, Laura designed terrazzo paving areas and porcelain enamel steel panels to be fabricated and installed on station platforms. The art panel designs are black and white contemporary portraits shot in historic locations of rock ‘n’ roll history that took place in the San Fernando Valley. The images reference the styles and fashions of the times in which these events took place. One photograph was shot at the former location of the Devonshire Downs Racetrack, where the Newport ’69 Festival took place on June 20-22, headlined by Jimi Hendrix, The Animals, Marvin Gaye and others. It was also formerly the original Valley College location now Cal State University Northridge. The other photograph was taken at the former Franklin Canyon location of a Rolling Stones album cover Big Hits High Tides and Green Grass, shot in 1969.
“My artwork is closely aligned to the practice of narrative and documentary style photography in which the photographer has a personal connection to its subject matter.”
MTA Photo Light Box Series - 2006-2010
Laura London created seven large-scale photographic light boxes, which were installed in several locations throughout the metropolitan Los Angeles area.
Public Art Review, Public Art 2.0, issue 41, fall/winter, 2009
Osberg, Annabel, Artillery Magazine, “Laura London,” Chimento Contemporary, May 11, 2016
Western, Beverly, “GIRL POWER AT CHIMENTO CONTEMPORARY, Laura London, Cole Case at Chimento Contemporary,” Artillery Magazine, April 18, 2016
Dambrot, Shana Nys, “Laura London: Relocation at Chimento Contemporary,” Huffington Post, April 13, 2016
Chassepot, Beatrice, “ART FAIR REVIEW: Photo LA, 25th edition,” be-Art magazine, January 30, 2016
Koll, Juri, “How Artists Survive, Part 8 – They Mark Their Territory,” Huffington Post, April 23, 2015
Wood, Eve, “Pick of the Week: Trio: Kathleen Johnson, Laura London, Lisa Rosel,” Artillery, April 9, 2015
Zeller, Heidi, “Artists of the Metro Orange Line exhibition closes December 13,” thesource.metro.net, December 6, 2012
Martens, Anne, “Artillery Feature”, Artillery Magazine, Vol. 7 Issue 2 November/December 2012, p. 28, (illus.)
Walker, Alissa, “How Do You Capture the San Fernando Valley Through Art?”
blogs.laweekly.com, November 6, 2012
Wagley, Catherine, “Looking at Los Angeles / When Rock Star Fantasies Go Too Far,” blog.art21.org, October 25, 2012
Bjork, Lori, “Ten Questions with artist Laura London,” examiner.com, October 18, 2012
Wagley, Catherine, “Five Artsy Things To Do This Week,” blogs.laweekly.com, October 10, 2012
Derrick, Lisa, “Once Upon a Time…,” Cartwheel, October 1, 2012, (illus.)
Hymon, Steve, “Artists of the Metro Orange Line exhibition opens October 11 at Los Angeles Valley College,” thesource.metro.net, August 30, 2012
Frank, Peter, “Haiku Reviews: 'Hair', Cirque du Soleil and Some Electric Cellos (VIDEO + PHOTOS),” Huffington Post Arts, November 4, 2011
Cifarelli, Gabriel, “Playing Telephone With Art: Two Exhibits that Mix Curating
With Old School Social Networking,” blogs.laweekly.com, June 2, 2011
Center for the Psychology of Women Blog, 2010, “Los Angeles Based Artist Laura London Talks Rock Stars, Teaching and Photography,” Laurie Wheeler
[link to interview]
National Museum of Women in the Arts, 2009, Calendar for Exhibition,
“Modern Love: Gifts to the Collection from Heather and Tony Podesta,” National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.
Selected Public Collections
Art Center Library, Pasadena, California (catalogs)
Corcoran, Washington DC
Johnson City Community College, Overland Park, Kansas
National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC
Neuberger Berman, Chicago, Illinois
Norton Family Office, Santa Monica, California
Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California
Refco, Chicago, Illinois
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, California
PHOTOLA, Chimento Contemporary, 2016
Photo Miami, DA Gallery, 2007
Pulse Miami, Caren Golden Fine Art, 2007
Pulse Miami, Caren Golden Fine Art,
Photo Miami, DA Gallery, 2006
Pulse Miami, Caren Golden Fine Art, 2005
Hamptons Art Fair, Caren Golden Fine Art, 2005
Art Chicago, Caren Golden Fine Art, 2004
Art Chicago, Revolution Gallery, 2004
LACE Benefit Art Auction, Los Angeles CA, May 18, 2016
Delia Brown: Benefit Auction, c.nichols project, Mar Vista, CA, March 15, 2015
Stoked Sessions: Art Show & Benefit, The Brick Building, Culver City, CA, May 20 – 21, 2011
ForYourArt Benefit, Soho House, West Hollywood, CA, March 28, 2011
Re: PRESENT ~ LACE Annual Benefit Art Auction;
a celebration of the moment
representing three decades of excellence
with a toast to the future,
May 22, 2008
Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibits (LACE)
6522 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
The REFCO Collection of Contemporary Photography, Christie's, Rockefeller Plaza, NYC, NY. Tuesday April 23, Friday May 5 & Wednesday May 10, 2006,
Christie's New York, New York
Catalogue Lot 167
Annabel Osberg, “CHIMENTO CONTEMPORARY - Laura London,” Artillery, May 11, 2016
Like fairy tales about to reach sinister climaxes, Laura London’s new photographs present spuriously romanticized views of female youth. Each portrait’s idealized setup is tempered by a portentous feeling that something is amiss. Read the entire article here: http://artillerymag.com/chimento-contemporary-laura-london/
Beverly Western, “GIRL POWER AT CHIMENTO CONTEMPORARY - Laura London, Cole Case at Chimento Contemporary,” Artillery, April 18, 2016
Last night found us in Downtown LA at Chimento Contemporary for Laura London’s show. We’ve been following London’s “girls” for quite some time, so we were anxious to see the newest crop of female adolescents usually featured in her work. Read the entire article here: http://artillerymag.com/girl-power-chimento-contemporary/
Shana Nys Dambrot, “Laura London: Relocation at Chimento Contemporary,” Huffington Post, April 13, 2016
Photographer Laura London has a mantra. “Personal, universal; observation, imagination.” Her most indelible images are animated by the meticulous and intuitive calibration of these dynamic dualities. From narrative symbolism to technical pragmatism, at every level London’s choices deftly merge the aesthetic and moral zeitgeist in which she is working with phenomenological fantasies of her own design. Read the entire article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shana-nys-dambrot/laura-london-relocation-a_b_9673818.html
Juri Koll, “How Artists Survive, Part 8 – They Mark Their Territory,” Huffington Post, April 23,2015
Christine Nichols has built her career on listening and watching. She understands artists' approach to their work, whether it be works on paper or formed by fiberglass. She is careful in her curating, generous in her exhibitions of their work as she studies their methods. She embraces their marks as she creates room for them breathe in her space, called c.nichols project. Read the entire article here: http://www.lauralondon.com/reviews/Huffington_Post_Trio.pdf
Eve Wood, “Trio: Kathleen Johnson, Laura London, Lisa Rosel,” Artillery, April 9, 2015
Trio at c. nichols project is a visual exploration into harmony wherein three unique photo-based artists explore their individual visions while also maintaining a harmonious unity amongst each other. Kathleen Johnson’s beautifully mysterious landscapes allude to the possibility of life even in the most desolate of terrains, just as Lisa Rosel’s abundantly populated cityscapes capture their own hyperbolic energies. Laura London’s elegant images of youth culture also attest to a strangely enigmatic “otherness” where a girl in a striking black dress appears to have sprung fully formed into the surrounding white space. The image, though spare, is oddly electric. Read full article here:
Vol. 7 Issue 2 November/December 2012, p. 28, (illus.)
Laura London often channels celebrities through her photography, but not necessarily in ways that you’d expect. She doesn't document musicians, models or actors onstage or off, or portray them in surreal situations like say, Annie Liebovitz does. Instead, she asks teens and young adults she knows to perform for the camera. By photographing them preening and vamping as an exploration of idealized identity, London’s images become about the nature of culturally indoctrinated emulation.
In one of her images from “Rock Star Moment,” a series from 2000, a teen faces the camera with attitude, a guitar hung at her waist. Decked out in baby-doll dress and platinum wig, with black nail polish and smeary lipstick, the girl passes as a juvenile version of Courtney Love. In another picture the girl is dressed in black, leaning over a bathroom sink. Her mirrored reflection reveals a face masked with dark eyeliner and blood-red lipstick, her expression feigning Trent Reznor's creepy living-dead look. Those two photographs suggest how London approaches her young subjects; that collaboration is a necessary component, even if it is left ambiguous as to whose imagination (the photographer's or the model's) is really being tapped.
“Once Upon A Time…” is London's most recent and ambitious series, begun in 2007 and periodically updated. Read the entire article here: http://www.lauralondon.com/reviews/ArtilleryNovDec.pdf
Ten Questions with artist Laura London Art Essay by Lori Bjork, Examiner, October 18, 2012
1. What age would you say you first began creating art?
Age three to four. I would bring home stacks of abstract watercolor finger paintings from preschool. My mom would put them up on the wall and I would rearrange them. The first show was at age six to eight of a pastel drawing at an art show at a Chicago social club. My first professional show was while I was in college. I showed two black and white photographs in a juried show.
2. Did you create for the fun of it, because you simply couldn't not create art or some other reason?
Yes, as a child I made art for fun. As I grew up I became engaged in it and went to art school.
3. What age would you say you first began defining yourself as an artist?
High School age.
I began photography at 14. Read the entire article here: http://www.lauralondon.com/reviews/Examiner.pdf
Laura London Photography: The Youth Dilemma by Milagros Bello, Wynwood The Art Magazine
London’s photographs of young subjects express the rules of engagement of contemporary teenagers, and depict a new embodiment of culture. Seeking their own meaning and identity, in a cross-cultural synonymy, they shape their illusions, their truths, their morality, through epic ordeals and heroic quests. These youthful subjects reveal themselves by their bodily actions and their defiant poses, creating a crucial taxonomy of signs. We can grasp their anxiety, their struggles, their sensuality, their ultimate inner mystery. London appropriates their crucial reality well, transforming them into iconic profiles of our contemporary society.
Read the entire article here: http://artpulsemagazine.com/laura-london
Interview with Laura London Contemporary Artist/Photographer, Stay Thirsty Media, Jan. 4, 2009
Thirsty caught up with Laura London in Los Angeles where she has lived and worked for the last sixteen years. L.A., its youth culture and rock n’ roll have heavily influenced her work which Los Angeles Times critic Holly Myers has called “the most casual and naturalistic sense of looking in at private moments in the lives of today’s youth culture.” Her first solo show in Miami runs from January 10 to February 10, 2009 at the Daniel Azoulay Gallery in Miami, Florida and the works featured relate thematically to the ideas of personal identity, youth culture and rock n’ roll. Read the entire article here: http://www.lauralondon.com/reviews/ST.pdf
Laura London: Photographs based on youth culture, and Rock & Roll by Cara Bloch
Lipstick Tracez, January 6, 2009
Laura London! Laura London! Doesn't that sound that a rock star name to begin with? Like Joan Jett, Tennessee Thomas (from The Like), Doris Day, Marilyn Monroe, and Jenny Jones (the early 90's talk show host???!!!!???) you must love the all alliteration in these strong female superstars! Read the entire article here: http://www.lauralondon.com/reviews/LipstickTracez121312.pdf
US Recent Projects
Public Art Review
Vol. 18 No. 2 Issue 36, 2007 p. 90, (illus.)
Initiated in 2001, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Metro Art Lightbox Program places the work of photo-based artists in illuminated boxes at Metro train stations (along the Red Line). The most recent additions to the series, installed in 2006, include creations by artists Sam Erenberg, Colette Fu, Laura London, and Peter Goin. Pictured above is Erenberg’s The Complete Works of Roland Barthes, which consists of digitally-altered photographs of seven Los Angeles artists holding books by Barthes. According to Erenberg, “The seven artists I chose (from twenty-two of the Los Angeles art community, as well as the city at large.” Fu’s Photo Binge is a collage of various binge activities: eating, exercising, shopping. London’s Couples, Groups and Friends comprises seven images depicting teenagers in social environments, urban landscapes, and dream settings. Read the entire article here: http://www.lauralondon.com/reviews/publicartreview_s-s07.pdf
Artists Transform Metro Orange Line Into Work Of Art, 2005 [link to artwork]
Opening October 29th, 2005 the Metro Orange Line will showcase artwork of 15 California artists.
The work of fifteen California artists is being incorporated into the new Metro Orange Line to enhance the journeys of future riders. One of the unique aspects of the Orange Line is that the artists' brought a sense of both continuity and individuality to the stations. Artworks include terrazzo paving at platforms, colorful porcelain steel art panels at each station entry, sculpted seating, and various artist influenced landscaping elements.
[download full press release]
Photographer Laura London records the mock rock adventures of a suburban teen,
Her Fave Raves
Issue No. 3, Spring/Summer 2001, p. 35-37, (illus.)
Poised precariously between Nabokov’s nymphets and MTV’s sultry sirens, Laura London’s Rock Star Moments poses a 13-year-old Clancy—the self-possessed high-cheekboned daughter of an artist friend-in a series of mockumentary tableaux. Here, London cannibalizes the images of a bevy of female rock icons, including Shirley Manson and Courtney Love, simultaneously commenting on the pervasive influence of celebrities and bringing her own nubile life to the party.
London, who teaches photography to teenagers in Los Angeles, is clearly able to get on the same wavelength as her adolescent model. “I like to work with issues of identity. A lot of my work is autobiographical and comes from my own memories, “London says, “I was around teenagers so much I started noticing how they were similar and dissimilar to me during different periods of their lives. I like to use a person to tell a story, sort of like a filmmaker. But my images are not documentary; they represent a search to identify the youth culture of this particular era.”
Read the entire article here: http://www.lauralondon.com/reviews/Smock01.pdf
Special to the Times
“London's Photos Depict Teen Dreams, Fantasies”
Los Angeles Times
November 24, 2000, F29, (illus.)
“Rock Star Moments”, Laura London’s new series of photographs on view at Works on Paper Inc., is a tour through the literal and psychological costume trunk of a 13 year-old girl named Clancy. The first five of the 10 photographs in the series feature Clancy in the guise of Marilyn Manson, Courtney Love and other rock stars, complete with wigs, makeup, jewelry, padded breasts and a guitar. If it weren’t for the clear markings of a teenage girl’s bedroom, the images would be surprisingly convincing.
Clancy conveys all the trappings of contemporary glamour with ease: the adolescent indifference, the sultry posture, the detached gaze, the cool sexuality. She wears the costumes not as clothes but as psychological states, as though she’s internalized their logic. But there is nothing schizophrenic about Clancy’s performances in these pictures; rather, her ease in role playing is conveyed as a form of mastery.
The sixth photograph in the series takes us behind the scenes. In this image, Clancy sits on the floor of her room, holding a red wig in one hand and sorting through piles of clothes with the other, out of character and not paying attention to the camera. It’s a charming and powerful moment in the series, not because it exposes a “real” Clancy underneath the adult disguises-it doesn’t–but because it exposes her as the clear-headed author of her own image.
The remaining four photographs also depict Clancy out of character, in various states of costume. In the last image, she appears as a regular 13-year-old-girl in blue jeans and a tank top, although we are given no reason to believe that it is any truer an image than any of the others.
It is to London’s credit that Clancy’s talent for shape-shifting is not presented as a sign of capriciousness or soulnessness but as a gesture of power. London centers Clancy in every image, shooting from eye level or near eye level. Clancy gazes directly (and dauntingly) into the camera in most of the shots, and in no case does she seem to have been caught unaware. London has not attempted to seize more than Clancy wants to give to the camera. The resulting effect is a charming camaraderie between the two, a sense of respectful cooperation that seems to have brought out the best in both of them.
Works on Paper Inc.,
6150 Wilshire Blvd.
Through Dec 2
Closed Sundays and Monday
Time Out New York
February 18-25, 1999, Issue No. 178, p. 50, (illus.)
There’s something about teenage girls that seems so trivial, yet so deep. They can be sweet and cruel, goofy and serious, sexy and clueless. Photographer Laura London takes up Cindy Sherman’s idea of posing for the camera, but London uses teenage girls as models instead of herself. That’s not the only difference, however: London stresses inner complexity over visual clichés, even as she skirts those very clichés. It’s a dangerous game, but London by and large succeeds.
The main reason is her collaboration with a 15-year-old Naomi, a punk rocker she met in 1996. The focus of this exhibition is the half-dozen or so photos that make up “True Self: Portraits,” which show Naomi before a dressing-room mirror in a posh Beverly Hills store.
Naomi is exactly like one of those special teenage girls I described earlier; She’s physically mature, though somewhat awkward; cute, but with a dark side, earnest and always searching. She looks like a young Sandra Bernhard.
London explores Naomi’s moods by carefully choosing wardrobe and setting. We see Naomi in a sexy leather outfit, with her head bowed in apparent doubt; angelic and ivory- shouldered in a fuchsia prom dress, capturing that moment when every father cries, squatting in halter dress, brandishing tattoos that spell out LOVE/HATE across her fingers (imitating Night of the Hunter?), while shadows and multiple reflections mirror some inner struggle. In another shot, she’s with one of the girls, in a back-to-school number, casually tossing off sexiness in a way guaranteed to torture make classmates. Elsewhere, she does an Ava Gardner twirl, showing off her underarms in a sleeveless see-through beach dress, she dons glasses to sit, Buddha-style, with an oh-so-serous mien, and she stretches out on the floor like a vixen in leopard-print dress, gazing upon her burgeoning cleavage.
The camera obviously loves Naomi, but I’m not sure whether the strength of “True Self: Portraits” lies solely with her or with London’s abilities as an artist. Whatever the reason, these photographs steal the show.
Caren Golden Fine Art
New York, NY
Special to the Times
Los Angeles Times
May 1, 1998, F24, (illus.)
At Works on Paper Inc., Laura London’s portraits of teenage punk rockers, photographed in department store dressing rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms, invite voyeuristic curiosity. Her photographs appear to offer candid glimpses into the private rituals of young women, but in fact, each image has been carefully staged and costumed by London. Our knowledge of this somehow doesn’t lessen the sense that we’re peeking in at something irresistible, that’s really none of our business.
There’s a touching lack of irony in these girls’ appropriation of punk’s rebellious, anti-establishment stance to express their “true selves,” since their neo-punk look of black mesh dresses, chunky platform boots, press-on tattoos and studded wristbands can all be purchased at the local Urban Outfitters. Like fashion’s glamorization of heroin chic, London’s teenagers glide along the razor’s edge between style and substance, where gritty authenticity is always threatening to slide into patently stylized transgression.
It’s no coincidence that these girls’ search for personal identity dovetails perfectly with their entrance into the consumer marketplace. Yet, London seems as comfortable with these apparent contradictions as the hip generation of “riot grrrl” neo-feminists she portrays.
Most of her images succeed in having it both ways: They could blend right into the editorial pages of a teen fashion magazine, but at the same time we’re uncomfortable watching these young women when they’re at their most vulnerable. London’s portraits beg comparison to the more well-known work of Sharon Lockhart, whose photographs capture a similar sense of being caught between two worlds. But where Lockhart’s models appear dreamy and transcendent, London’s streetwise teenagers are rooted in the here-and-now.
They know they’re being looked at. Instead of playing up to the camera, their blank expressions mirror your desires back at you, their faces as unyielding as steel-plated armor.
Works on Paper Inc.,
6150 Wilshire Boulevard
Through June 6
Closed Sundays and Mondays
Friday, November 24, 2000
“Art Picks of the Week”
Vol. 20 No. 27, May 29 - June 4, 1998, (illus.)
Whereas Laura London’s earlier photographs reveled in their own artifice, mocking and queering the stylized, exaggerated images and claims of clothing and beauty ads, these latest, markedly more poignant shots emphasize the individuality of their subjects, middle-class adolescent girls acting and interacting at home or in public spaces. Still, it is clear that London has set up at least some of these photos, artfully but unsubtly violating the camera-verite claim to documentary truth. London actually exercises as a “truth” of another kind, the narrative, even novelistic truth of observed and recalled experience. Whether she is watching these teens or posing them, London is obviously empathizing with them, recording their re-enactments of the kinds of personal and social rituals that marked her own coming of age. London “documents” one young lady in particular, a punkish and photogenic gamine who hangs with her homies and struts her stuff in front of a clothing store’s dressing-room mirror with equal grace, aplomb, vulnerability, girlishness, self-possession, etc. etc. The range of sensation she manages to project – or London projects through her – renders this mall-rat Audrey Hepburn the prefect modern-day everywoman-in-training.
Work on Paper Inc.
Los Angeles, CA
Smoke and Mirrors
Teenage girls gathering in public bathrooms to apply make-up, smoke cigarettes, gossip about boys, music, and fashion is a common occurrence. Yet, when filtered through the camera of Los Angeles artist Laura London, who has been working with the subject over the last few years, there appears to be something not so matter of fact about these rituals of youth. In fact, there is something strange, or rather strained in these photos of young women at the onslaught of self-awareness and self-discovery that transcends the usual difficulty and awkwardness of adolescence. Young riot girls, hippie chicks and punk rockers sitting on the sidewalk sulking are not documented simply to illustrate this increasingly important demographic. Nor are they the work of a social anthropologist, who may observe the curious habits of girls spending hours in their bedroom playing guitar and giggling. Rather, London’s most recent images straddle the sociological and the physiological. They are staged fictions rooted in the girls’ social, emotional, and corporeal reality.
The girls in London’s photographs are not models or aspiring young actresses, but her own students. They are inserted into a mise en scene which heightens the signifiers of an American adolescent world. The bedroom scene is an actual reproduction of the artist’s own teen retreat, down to the same exact sleeping bag on the bed. It is in such images that we really begin to understand London’s work within the context of filmmaking and within a broader movement of contemporary photography in which the photographic truth has been replaced in favor of fiction, fake narratives, and staged events. Like Cindy Sherman, Sharon Lockhart, and the teenage girl images of Sarah Jones and Dana Hoey, London directs every aspect of the photo shoot. Planning well in advance she scouts locations searching for public bathrooms with expressionistic graffiti, a gritty urban street corner, or the perfect sunlit park. She then works on costumes, creates special lighting, and dresses the set in order to amplify these sites of teen angst.
While some of her photographs are quite involved and require much preparation, and others, such as the more traditional portraits require only the subject and special lighting. For example, several of the Polaroid’s depict solitary illuminated silhouettes or cropped figures that emerge hauntingly from a black background. Inspired by the 17th century Dutch painting, Untitled (studio portrait with Vermeer lighting), portrays a girl with the hair color and highlights of the moment almost magically appearing from the velvet background, her intense red hair shimmering like fire.
“ I first saw her when she was sixteen, in the early summer.”
- Sigmund Freud, Dora
London first spotted Naomi, a punk rock girl of about fifteen, in the summer of 1996. Fascinated by her tough exterior, vampish makeup, and torn stockings, the artist incorporated her into this ongoing photographic project. During the process of working with Naomi, London discovered that beneath her hard shell lies a sweet young thing. And like Freud who was hired to discover the fugitive inner life of young Dora, London has taken it upon herself to continue her investigation into the inner lives of her young subjects by making Naomi her own case study. In the series “True-Self: Portraits 1-6 London places her analysand in front of a mirror (the original point of recognition of the self) in a dressing room of an upscale Beverly Hills department store. Positioned behind Naomi, just as Freud would have been sitting behind Dora, London photographs her as she looks at herself in the mirror.
As Naomi watches herself, London in turn observes and records the emergence of Naomi’s many inner selves: Naomi as debutante in the ball gown; Naomi as Prada wearing bookworm; or Naomi as vixen in a tight leopard print dress. Are these different personae, about true identity, masquerade, or projection? Perhaps they are an accurate reflection of all the multiple “true” selves found in every subject.
Caught in this hypnotic web of gazes one could forever ponder these photographs like the girls in their images endlessly examine themselves. For Laura London’s images of Naomi and others not only reflect the ambiguities and contradictions contained within today’s youth they also mirror some of the most intriguing work created in current photography,
Laurence A. Rickels
Bridge Isn’t Falling Down
Laura London is an explorer of the Teen Age, you know the age, like, you know, I don’t know, the one we live in. The teen in our midst, the inner teen, is the measure and metabolism of what’s most pressing right now on the edge of the time to come. That’s why boredom is one bottom line only the teen can hang with: in less represented terms, what we call boredom is the wide open space of incalculable events, adverts, adventures. It’s the ever new frontier in which we get an outside chance of encountering the other, the one who comes towards us, uncontrollably, unstoppably, like the future, like reality. It’s in such a moment that identification exceeds itself and opens up to intervention, self invention, the advent of the other in your face. Like one moment I'm bored, then next moment I’m dressing up fit to be tied to a star.
Rock Star Moment double features the dress-up rituals of a 13-year-old imitating the likes of Shirley Manson, Marilyn Manson, and Courtney Love. But each moment is about London’s relationship to her subject. She’s there, two. She pays tribute to the agency or identity teens construct for themselves in the course of identifying with the stars, models, idols in our current saturation sensurround of total information. The resulting look is not the placeholder for the original nor can it be reduced to the teen’s desire to be like figures recognized for being different. It is something new and passing that hangs around for a while in London’s photographs.
In this work the photographer-director is a participant, a teenager at heart. London tries to capture the often overlooked aspects of teen likability. Even while becoming or making image, the teen resists objectification by attaining the crazy careful imperfection of a look at once received and reclaimed. Focus on the difference made in current teen identification rituals is one goal of London’s attention to the kind of body of work that can be built by doing the stats and working the specs of a perspective at once sociological and psychological. Psychoanalytically, however, it is the same difference that comes into focus. The girl who dresses up as rock stars is also playing princess in fantasies that take off from and take her way from her present family role. The favorite period costume for the Barbie doll is still that of medieval princess.
London is one of those names that’s a place name, the name of one place in particular that has absorbed histories, even or especially histories of the recent past. Since the 1960s. London has been a center stage of the Teen Age. But beneath the mini-skirting of this youth culture’s origin in the in-group’s murder of the primal Pop. London’s Teen Age was first to show the stretch lines of tension binding this age to the Middle Ages, both as historical or fantastic past and as a phase in human development, that is, the time of crisis in which midlifers value the youth that was wasted on them back then. Teen energy is unthinkable with out the fantasy resources of the Middle Ages crisis. The middle ages serve the time in which teens, too, imagine a fantasy past, crowded with props from the Middle Ages, to which they assign their parents, thus at once declaring them history (“so medieval!”) and granting them a heroic version of their own adolescence (which, on its own, by the way, wastes away).
Fantasy, before it became a best-selling literary genre, was analyzed by Freud, in his essay on The Poet and Day-Dreaming, in terms of the two times you get and the one time you forget. Freud’s example features a boy in his early teens, an orphan, who decides to apply for a job he has just heard about. On the way to his interview he fantasizes getting the job, rising up the ranks of employment, until he is second in command to his boss, whose daughter he marries and whose business he inherits. The past tense belongs to a time when the boy was the beloved young child of his parents. His yearning for that past animates the fantasy, which belongs to the future. It’s a fiction about the time to come that is at the same time inspired by the past that saw him better off, beloved, protected. But for the fantasy to unfold the day-dreamer must precisely forget the present, his job search, his unemployed, alone-in-the-world-status--he must forget the present tension that the fantasy circumvents on the past-to-future bridge. This London bridge isn’t falling down, not in Star Wars, not in Rock Star Moment. Ever since the invention of mid life, which coincides with the invention of adolescence, even crisis is on one hot line to and through Middle Ages and Teen Age fantasies.