Melissa Anderson’s “Inland Empire” and Pippa Garner’s “Immaculate Misconceptions”
By LARB Radio HourNovember 26, 2021
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In the first half of the show, Kate Wolf is joined by Melissa Anderson to discuss her first book, Inland Empire, a volume in Fireflies Press’s Decadent Editions series, which revisit seminal films from the 2000s. A story of a “woman in trouble,” David Lynch’s Inland Empire (2006) is a bold selection, since, as Anderson points out, to try and make sense of its plot “would be to replicate the tediousness and pointlessness of narrating a dream.” Instead the book concerns itself most with the film’s star, Laura Dern, an electrifyingly expressive performer who has worked in the industry since she was a child. Using the whole of Dern’s career and her many collaborations with Lynch, Anderson explores Inland Empire as the work not so much of an auteur but of an actor, making poignant observations along the way about disintegration and desperation, victimization and agency, the possibilities of the female gaze, and the dark side of Hollywood.
In the second half, Kate is joined by artist and inventor Pippa Garner. Over the past six decades, Garner has satirized American consumer culture with a range of drawings and ideas for outlandish yet, given our zeal for novelty, completely plausible products, custom furniture, and things like the world’s most fuel efficient car — which is actually a bicycle set inside the frame of a miniature Honda. In the 1970s she collaborated with the media collective Ant Farm, and in the 1980s, as Phillip Garner, she published books such as Better Living Catalog: 62 Absolute Necessities for Contemporary Survival and Utopia — or Bust! Products for the Perfect World. She also made regular appearances on the talk show circuit, in character as a small-town inventor, presenting some of her many gadgets — like a crop-top business suit and an umbrella whose canopy is constructed of palm fronds. “Immaculate Misconceptions,” a retrospective of her work, is currently on view at Joan in Los Angeles.
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