Margaret Haines: Love With Stranger x Coco

To start our programme of public events, Page Not Found was delighted to invite Margaret Haines to talk about her practice and research. In particular, she read excerpts from an upcoming book exploring her role as a board member of the Cameron Parsons Foundation since 2014, a recent curatorial junket at agnès b. presenting ephemera from the foundation archive, and her 2012 publication “Love With Stranger x Coco”.

The book Coco x Love With Stranger explores different tropes of female identity – mixing personas, identities, some parafictional, some actual. Based on the narrative structure of Don Quixote, the book revolves around three female protagonists—Coco, a character that appears in Haines’ forthcoming film; Los Angeles artist and cult figure, Cameron (1922-1995), famed for her role in Kenneth Anger’s Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome; and Haines’s own ruminations.

The book presents a visual mash up of Coco’s inner compulsions and obsessions through film stills, collages of props, and photographs of the actresses who interpret on her scripts. Throughout making the film, Haines held varying degrees of closeness with the actresses, including acting as an on-call babysitter for the youngest ‘Coco.’ These relationships are presented in the book and insert the artist as a quasi-actress, collaborator and character.

Haines’s identity of raconteur/protagonist develops further with a diary-style essay about Cameron titled “Love with Stranger.” This essay presents an alternative to the hysteric girl-culture of Coco by introducing Cameron— a figure fully cognizant and in control of her own female identity, and whose own practice explored techniques of imitation and subversion. Following a trail of archival research on the life of Cameron, the artist eventually meets Beat poet Aya Tarlow, once Cameron’s confidante. This encounter leads to the re-discovery of a text Aya gave Cameron in the 1950s, and which Cameron later read on the radio in the 1970s, in an attempt to “free women.”

Coco x Love With Stranger is a 144 page soft-cover perfect-bound book published by New Byzantium in an edition of 500. Printed on newsprint in color and black and white, its format references 1990s tweenage pulp novels. The film and its soundtrack (composed by artist Patrick Dyer) was released in Spring 2013, on a usb silicone necklace made in collaboration with designer Arielle de Pinto.

Margaret Haines (b. 1984, Montreal, Canada) studied at École des Beaux Arts in Paris, and Concordia University in Montreal, and received her MFA at CalArts. In 2015-2016 she has been a resident at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. Her work has been exhibited at ltd los angeles, Carroll Fletcher Gallery and ICA in London, Western Front Exhibitions in Vancouver, and Tanya Leighton Gallery in Berlin, amongst others.