Dara Friedman’s ‘Perfect Stranger’ is a perfect name for the artworks which try to essentially capture, not just moments but stories, where everything has a certain distinctive character of their own and which can speak for itself. Technically speaking, the videos are made keeping the concepts of light, sound and physical or rather, bodily experiences at the center. Hence, when one watches them, it strikes them to be more than anything else, a sensory experience. The people she captures look like people one may seem to see every day on the roads, in the public parks or in the subways and yet, by capturing them in a way which is sometimes purposefully dramatic but mostly intense, it captures the feeling of sonder– a feeling that each passerby is living a vivid, colorful life and moments which may be as complex and important as one’s own life is to oneself. These are the things which you never generally notice but because of the deliberately emotive intensity in her videos and by the medium of their artistic expression, you are suddenly made aware of this feeling of sonder and the dreamlike quality it has.
The overwhelming mood and setting of Dara Friedman’s works appear as predominantly urbane that express the modern life in various spheres and shades and yet the filmmaking is deliberately nostalgic, making a watcher reminiscence about the fleeting things which go by, often unnoticed but which define the life that is lived as such and that makes even the everyday things appear refreshing when seen from a particular light. The main objective of Dara seems to be to express a certain emotion or mood in all its various shades of joy, sorrow, complexity, and bonds of intimacy and this is evoked through senses and sight. A look at these images and one instantaneously notices the vibrancy, the vividness, the sheer plethora of colors and imagery in them and then the attention is drawn to how different they are from one another but still united by a common purpose of stirring something which we hardly consider in our conscious state.
Dara’s work is new and experimental yet it somehow reminds me of the style of the 90s because it seems so far and away from the style of video making today. Many of her works are loud while many have a subtlety. Some are focused more on the character while some on the overall mood. But there is an artistic essence in each one of them and that is clearly so because Dara has used many experimental dancers, musicians, actors and has explored their talent not only for making certain videos but as a way of delving deep into their personality. Now with Pérez Art Museum Miami exhibiting her artworks, the viewers can get, for some time, a glimpse into something completely sensual, something which even though not seen before, establishes a connection with something in us that we already know and are aware of.
Dara Friedman: Perfect Stranger at Pérez Art Museum
Nov. 3, 2017 – March 4, 2018