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Impressions Gallery

exhibitions: past


Laurie Long

09th Apr - 18th Jul 2005

In Undercover, the first UK solo show by US artist Laurie Long, Impressions presents two bodies of work that fuse elements of humour, feminism and popular culture. These two recent bodies of work employ photography and video to explore childhood memory, identity, role-play and surveillance in everyday life.

The Dating Surveillance Project (1998)

This body of work is a collection of videos and stills gathered by the artist on a series of dates. Wearing a hidden video camera and microphone concealed within her coat, she recorded her dates with all their awkwardness, flattery, long pauses and boring conversations.

“Like most artists, I am working another job to finance my art career. I am so busy working two jobs that I have no time in my schedule for romance, unless I make it into an art project.”  Laurie Long

Long claims only to have dated men she actually wanted to go out with. Some agreed beforehand to let her film the date, others went on the date specifically to be filmed, some didn’t know they were being filmed. All those in the exhibition have given their consent. Although they may be aware that they are being filmed, the dates did not know where the camera was concealed. This helps to make the date less self-conscious and shifts the focus away from the camera.

The Dating Surveillance Project
was born out of Long’s belief that dating paralleled a spy mission. “Each date is a kind of reconnaissance mission: my outfits are disguises, my behaviour is a persona, and my questions are interrogations.  I am a spy in my own life… The experience of covertly filming my dates is similar to that of being a private detective – there’s a lot of waiting around for something exciting to happen.”  Laurie Long

Becoming Nancy Drew (1996)

Detective work also features prominently in the Becoming Nancy Drew series, in which Long physically transforms herself into the famous girl sleuth from the classic children's book in order to explore fiction and memory.

Laurie Long describes reading Nancy Drew mystery books as one of her early influences in life. This strong character challenged typical models for young women by empowering them with a sense of independence, an inquisitive nature, and a tendency to go against expectations of how a young woman should behave. In this series of self-portraits, Long uses photography to recreate drawings from the books, and places herself, as Nancy, within the story. Each of the photographs is accompanied by a caption from the original illustrations; however, Long had added a pinhole photograph, presenting an alternative view of the scene and adding further mystery and suspense.

“To become Nancy, I dyed my hair ‘Titian Blonde’, her shade. The process of physically altering myself to assume another identity was very profound; for two years, I was visually and literally someone else. Every morning, when I looked into the mirror, it was a hybrid of myself and Nancy that I saw. Strangely enough, this transformation revealed a constructed identity that for me captured my ‘real’ self.”
Laurie Long

The Nancy Drew mystery stories, first published in 1930, continue to be written and have been revised, updated and distributed internationally. A selection of Nancy Drew books dating from the 1930s to 1990s, can be found in the display cabinet and Reading Table during the exhibition.

Selected works from this series are featured in the accompanying imPRESS publication Becoming Nancy Drew, along with a selection of illustrations from editions of the Nancy Drew Mysteries. To find out more about this publication please click here

Undercover is an Impressions Gallery Touring Exhibition.

Laurie Long (born California, 1960) is a San Francisco based artist. While her work has been displayed and collected across the US and internationally, most notably at the San Jose Museum of Art (Feb 2005) Museé de la Photographie, Charleroi, Belgium (2001), and Fotographie Forum International, Frankfurt (2001), this is her first solo exhibition in the UK. Long has lectured extensively in the US and has undertaken artist residencies at Gasworks and the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. Her work has been published worldwide, most recently in Masquerade, published by IRIS, UK and ffotogallery, Wales, 2003.

Secret Code - Becoming Nancy Drew

Secret Code - Becoming Nancy Drew

Laurie Long

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