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Childhood Conditioning Crisis: Liz Magic Laser at Mercer Union

by Rea McNamara on December 17, 2015
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I’ve always been wary of blonde children. Maybe this stems from having grown up in a mostly white Canadian small town, where civic pride swelled for the farmer boys with hair the yellow of corn who became NHL players, or the figure skating girls able to lutz and flip jump in their sparkling spandex.

In Liz Magic Laser’s Kiss and Cry at Mercer Union, the chilling universalism of the sacred, blonde prodigy is affirmed. Commissioned by the artist-run center, the video follows figure skating coach Marie Jonsson MacKenzie conditioning her blonde blue-eyed children, seven year old Anna and eleven year old Axel, from training practice to spot-lit performance. It’s a straight-forward and minimal video work install: a blacked-out gallery, a large-scale projection, and not much else. Their dialogue with each other is stiff and unsettling—at one point after a performance in a darkened, empty North Toronto arena, young Axel says in a robotic-sounding voice-over “fuck the child … fuck the future”.

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