Slota + LaBute: New York Observer

Slota + LaBute:
New York Observer

Project Description

Follows a Cruel Art Collaboration With a New Play

The New York Observer 2010

“Neil LaBute closed one show last week and opens another on Monday. But what’s particularly noteworthy for the 47-year-old playwright-director is that one of them was in an art gallery.

Mr. LaBute is best known for his acrid and award-winning plays such as Reasons to Be Pretty and Fat Pig and the diabolical 1997 film he wrote and directed, In The Company of Men. His play The Break of Noon, opening Nov. 22 at the MCC Theater, stars David Duchovny as a man who sees God after a violent office shooting. But Mr. LaBute’s other recent project was a significant departure for him: He wrote extended captions for the mysterious, often chilling mutilated images and collages of photographer Gerald Slota. The artists’ two-year collaboration resulted in an often uneasy and provocative survey of the secret lives of families. They titled it ‘Home.Sweet.Home.’ Their 18 artworks, which were shown at Ricco/Maresca Gallery in Chelsea and will be shown in Los Angeles this spring, are ‘just slightly creepy,’ explained Mr. LaBute.

At first glance, a merger of the two men and their divergent disciplines—they worked together for months by email before meeting—seems unlikely. But they found they shared a fascination with the often tumultuous, even cruel aspects of relationships. One of the project’s more unsettling photos, Untitled Grandmother, is of the blurred-out face of an old woman appearing behind a slightly open door. Mr. LaBute’s caption for the piece took it in a darker, more intimate direction. ‘My grandmother walked in on me once when I was playing with myself. On her deathbed, she told me it was the only time she ever enjoyed sex,’ it reads. Typewritten and terse, Mr. LaBute’s words act as both description and elaboration of Mr. Slota’s disjointed and chaotic imagery. Another caption begins, ‘One day I heard a voice coming from the old drainpipe out back…’ And a third caption reads, ‘The baby stopped crying hours ago. I’m afraid to go upstairs and check it.’”