Liz Magic Laser: Convulsive States

Liz Magic Laser: Convulsive States

STUK — House for Dance, Image & Sound

Liz Magic Laser, Convulsive States—Exorcise. Courtesy of the artist.

March 30, 2024
Liz Magic Laser
Convulsive States
March 27–May 26, 2024
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STUK — House for Dance, Image & Sound
Naamsestraat 96
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Curator: Karen Verschooren, STUK
Curator at Pioneer Works, NY: Gabriel Florenz / Vivian Chui (Associate Curator)

STUK is delighted to present the work of New York-based video and performance artist Liz Magic Laser (b. 1981). In her first solo exhibition in Belgium, Laser explores the shaking body as both a symptom and a remedy for psychic distress. Convulsive States traces the lineage of psychosomatic disorders from historical hysteria to contemporary diagnoses such as “psychogenic non-epileptic seizures” and spirit possession. On view are two video installations. Exorcise 1 through 8 (2023) on the one hand, consists of eight interactive videos in which body practices such as qigong, holotropic breathwork and kundalini yoga are displayed on mirrored monitors. Convulsive States (2023), filmed in collaboration with French journalist Laura Geisswiller on the other hand, is a hallucinatory film essay about Paris’s Salpêtrière Hospital, widely considered the birthplace of modern psychology and neurology. Part of the same aural space, the two pieces, like a diptych, function as one. 

Developed over nine years of intense conversation and friendship with poet Ariana Reines, Convulsive States was commissioned by Pioneer Works, NY. On the occasion of this exhibition, Liz Magic Laser and STUK present a research room connecting the history of “shaking” to the history of (neuro)psychology, the use of photography and film to document pathologies, and its impact on the development of a contemporary dance vocabulary in Belgium.

The exhibition Convulsive States is part of a series of solo exhibitions in STUK by contemporary visual artists who have a particular affinity for the moving image. Previous exhibitions in this series include Ben Rivers: It’s About Time; Helen Cammock: Beneath the Surface of Skin; Mircea Cantor: Am I really free?; Angela Washko: Point of View; Sebastián Díaz Morales: Talk with Dust; Mika Taanila: The End; Nevin Aladağ: Rollin’; Omer Fast: Appendix; Joachim Koester: Maybe this act, this work, this thing; Emre Hüner: Neochronophobiq; John Akomfrah: Auto Da Fé; and Bjørn Melhus: The Theory of Freedom.

Liz Magic Laser (b. 1981, New York, US)
Liz Magic Laser is a multimedia video and performance-based artist from New York City. Her work intervenes in semi-public spaces such as bank vestibules, movie theaters and newsrooms, involving collaborations with actors, surgeons, political strategists and motorcycle gang members. Her recent work explores the efficacy of new age techniques and psychological methods active in both corporate culture and political movements. Laser’s work has been shown at venues such as The Smithsonian American Art Museum (2023); Pioneer Works, Brooklyn (2023); ICA Boston (2023); Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen (2022); Guggenheim Museum, New York (2021); MUDAM The Contemporary Art Museum of Luxembourg (2021). Her work has been critically acclaimed in publications such as Text zür Kunst, Artforum, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Frieze, and Art in

Works in the exhibition:
Exorcise 1 through 8

2023, 26:30 minutes, 8-channel, open sound
Performances by multidimensional medicine woman and physical therapist Eia Buenconsejo, birth doula Bonu deCaires, somatic acting technique professor Erica Fae, personal trainer and wellness coach Erik Potempa, dancer and massage therapist Cori Kresge, choreographer and Authentic Movement practitioner Wendy Osserman, GYROTONIC® Master Trainer Naoko Moriyama Robbins, and Kundalini yogi and competitive krumper Reuel Crunk Rogers; cinematography by Michelle Yoon; additional camerawork by Isaac Goes, Liz Magic Laser, and Grace Poppe; sound design by Jared Arnold; musical recordings by GOBBY; video editing by Isaac Goes and Michelle Yoon; choreographic consulting by Cori Kresge; and costume design and casting consulting by Felicia Garcia-Rivera.

Convulsive States
2023, 54 minutes, single channel, open sound
Cinematography by Laura Geisswiller; video editing by Isaac Goes and Michelle Yoon; sound design by Jared Arnold; musical recordings by GOBBY; Colorist: Nic Seago; Subtitle Translator: Charlotte de Mezamat. The project was developed over nine years of intense conversation and friendship with poet Ariana Reines. The film includes interviews with the staff of the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, including neurologist Dr. Martin Catala, psychiatrist Dr. David Cohen, Father Frederic Louzeau, neurologist Dr. Vincent Navarro, dance therapist Svetlana Panova, neurologist Dr. Emmanuel Flamand Roze, and dance therapist France Schott-Billmann; and additional interviews with artist and tai chi instructor Fabrice Brunet, journalist Hélène Combis, librarian and archivist Remi Gaillard, and journalist Virginie Girod. The artist offers special thanks to historian Asti Hustvedt for sharing research, the memory of Dr. Catherine Bouchara, who staged the seminal exhibition Charcot, une vie avec l’image at Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, the School of Visual Arts MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department for equipment support, and Zhu Miansheng of Ars Asiatica and Emmanuel Roussille for supporting the participation of artist Fabrice Brunet. Additional thanks to Manuel David, Joan Dupont, Amy Knorr and Bunny Lake Films.

Liz Magic Laser: Convulsive States was made possible by generous funding from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation. It is also supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in Partnership with the City Council, as well as the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

Contemporary Dance film fragments
–Alain Platel, VSPRS, 2006. Recording: Kamiel De Meester
–Voetvolk / Lisbeth Gruwez & Maarten Van Cauwenberghe, It’s going to get worse and worse and worse, my friend, 2012. Recording: Voetvolk
–Voetvolk / Lisbeth Gruwez & Maarten Van Cauwenberghe, Nomadics, 2023. Recording: Voetvolk

Please contact Goedele Pyck at goedele.pyck [​at​] for press inquiries or Karen Verschooren at karen.verschooren [​at​] for further inquiries regarding the exhibition.


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STUK — House for Dance, Image & Sound
March 30, 2024

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