Coco x Love With Stranger
Published by New Byzantium
Soft cover, 6 x 8.24, 144 pp. Offset, 16 color ills., 16 2-color ills., 112 b&w ills.
Coco x Love With Stranger, a new publication by Los Angeles-based artist Margaret Haines, is one in a series of ‘trailers’ for her forthcoming feature-length film Coco (fall 2012). Previous ‘trailers’ have included a performance at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), a sound installation at the Cirrus Gallery, and a sculptural presentation at Commonwealth and Council Gallery in Los Angeles.
The book Coco x Love With Stranger explores different tropes of female identity - mixing personas, identities, some parafictional, some actual. Based on the narrative structure of Don Quixote, the book revolves around three female protagonists—Coco, a character that appears in Haines’ forthcoming film; Los Angeles artist and cult figure, Cameron (1922-1995), famed for her role in Kenneth Anger’s Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome; and Haines’s own ruminations.
Like Don Quixote, the film drifts betwixt and between states of consciousness and madness. Played by four actresses ranging in age from 3 to 40, Coco battles her own delusions of achieving fame as a pop star. As a character both hysterical and visionary, her delusions reveal radical realizations about the world and the construction of the self. The book presents a visual mash up of Coco’s inner compulsions and obsessions through film stills, collages of props, and photographs of the actresses who interpret on her scripts. Throughout making the film, Haines held varying degrees of closeness with the actresses, including acting as an on-call babysitter for the youngest ‘Coco.’ These relationships are presented in the book and insert the artist as a quasi-actress, collaborator and character.
Haines’s identity of raconteur/protagonist develops further with a diary-style essay about Cameron titled “Love with Stranger.” This essay presents an alternative to the hysteric girl-culture of Coco by introducing Cameron— a figure fully cognizant and in control of her own female identity, and whose own practice explored techniques of imitation and subversion. Following a trail of archival research on the life of Cameron, the artist eventually meets Beat poet Aya Tarlow, once Cameron’s confidante. This encounter leads to the re-discovery of a text Aya gave Cameron in the 1950s, and which Cameron later read on the radio in the 1970s, in an attempt to “free women.”
Coco x Love With Stranger is a 144 page soft-cover perfect-bound book published by New Byzantium in an edition of 500. Printed on newsprint in color and black and white, its format references 1980s teenage pulp novels. The film and its soundtrack (composed by artist Patrick Dyer) will be released in Spring 2013, on a usb silicone necklace made in collaboration with designer Arielle de Pinto.
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