Ellen Nielsen – Guest Curation, November 2015

Ellen Nielsen is an interdisciplinary artist investigating femininity, artificial nature, and kitsch though video, performance, sculpture and photography. Seeking to disrupt traditional hierarchies of tone and genre, Nielsen employs humor, spectacle, and beauty as a decoy for feminist political content. In many of her projects, conventional symbols of sentimental femininity, such as flowers, beauty supplies, and craft store decorations, take on a vaguely sinister and aggressive presence. Combining synthetic and saccharine materials with botanical, animal, and anatomical forms, Nielsen’s work pokes fun at both the naturalization of femininity and the feminization of nature.

#1 Valentine for a Perfect Stranger
by Ben Coonley


"Use a computer to superimpose your head over that of Bronson Pinchot, and together we will stand tall on the wings of a shared dream!”
Have more romantic words ever been spoken? This video fills me with a lovely combination of romantic abandon, green screen envy, and cute aggression. Featuring a beautiful, Walter Benjamin-quoting tuxedo cat and the only likable instance of strangers singing the theme song from the musical RENT, this may be the most perfectly strange video on the internet.

#2 Dough
by Mika Rottenberg


In a dioramic Rube Goldberg machine, a team of women push, pinch, knead, squeeze, and sweat on an enormous blob of white dough, eventually vacuuming-sealing it into smaller blobs that get thrown in a box. Rottenberg’s depiction of meaningless, feminized labor is both hilarious and upsetting, and I like it when things are both.

#3 Vodka Movie
by Tim and Eric with Zach Galfinakis


With 3,970,391 views on YouTube, this pick is not exactly a deep cut, but it’s likely that I am personally responsible for 391 of those views. Tim and Eric have probably influenced me more than any other video or performance artists. If you poke around my Vimeo, you might notice that I’ve ripped off appropriated the absurdly fake foley sounds and the bottomless tiny bottle gag. Unlike many contemporary ironists whose winking imitations of consumer kitsch keep them at a flattering distance from their subject matter, Tim and Eric embrace everything gross and awkward in mass media with clammy, loving arms. Absolut paid them to make vodka look disgusting, and it ended up being the best commercial ever. What is this, ice? No, it’s the sound of your cultural hierarchies tinkling as they melt.          

#4 Pencil Episode 1
by Laura “Lulu” Callier


Lulu is a renaissance woman of the highest order. She made the music for this video and even gave birth to the mustard lemon from which all pencils originate. She also has a tumblr of extremely funny office supply jokes.

#5 Who Knew Slugs Could Be So Romantic?
By BBC / David Attenborough


Who knew slug penis could be so luminous? Who knew slug sex mucus possessed such gleaming, tensile strength? Who knew exactly when these slugs were about to bang and followed them through the moss with an HD video rig and an ASMR-inducing British accent? David Attenborough, that’s who. I love nature documentaries for their weird combination of information and projected human emotion. The sentimental music on top of the wet and sticky sounds of the slug movement is very inspiring. I’ll definitely have this video playing in the background the next time my partner and I fan out to form a translucent, flower-like globe.