2014, HD Video, 43’
22 March – 4 April 2016
Film Notes – courtesy of the Artist
COCO drifts betwixt and between states of consciousness and madness – and genre, exploring Film Noir confession, sci-fi, skate video and #pale-core. Its ambivalence to definition is predicated by using the possibility of delusion and irrationality as its methodological model.
The character Coco, half deluded actress/pop star, half recovering patient, relates her life in the span of what could be one day, while her memory extends the film’s time to include childhood, fantasy, trauma and future aspirations. Coco leaves home after her mother decamps with a group of skaters at the mall. Now a runaway in a So-Cal suburb, she encounters three traumatic episodes, which she later retells in a purgatory-like high-school ‘show and tell’, where she vies for survival and absolution.
The film revolves around her mother, friends, strangers, her ghost-like classmates and her own delusions of achieving fame as a pop star.
Coco’s sincere and quasi-primordial obsession with girlhood and pop stardom reach dramatic conclusions: where embarrassment, shame and awkwardness are eventually considered as equally possible strategies for development, inquiry and eventual critique – and, as additions or counterpoints to the available models of hard insincerity, imitation, and eventual appeasement. Where, the sincerity of embarrassment is considered as closer to the truth, closer to reality. In this way, Coco is also a confused, hysterical and visionary character, because, really, what’s reality?
Played by five actresses ranging in age from 3 years old to 40 years old, youth and aging within the film is considered as a coincidence to existence and the progression of time, and in this way inconsequential and non-deterministic. The potential of this (freedom?) is underscored by the production span of the film (four years) and how the lead actresses age and de-age from one scene to the next, from 3 to 7, from 12 to 16, from 26 to 30, from 40 to 44.
The cast is primarily made up of friends, street casting, one method actress and selecting existing relationships into parafictional situations. COCO is presented in conjunction with a book, Love With Stranger x Coco, with a long essay about the artist, poet and mystic Cameron, and with an accessory line, X FILLES.
“They say that when Saturn comes far into your sign it stays there like a large paperweight on a thin, thin, thin leaf… I was born with Saturn in my sign and know the perils so well…” Coco. In astrology “Saturn is associated with restriction and limitation. Where Jupiter expands, Saturn constricts. Although the themes of Saturn seem depressing, Saturn brings structure and meaning to our world. Saturn knows the limits of time and matter. Saturn reminds us of our boundaries, our responsibilities, and our commitments. It brings definition to our lives. Saturn makes us aware of the need for self-control and of boundaries and our limits.” Source: CafeAstrology.com.
Margaret Haines is a Los Angeles-based film-maker, installation artist and performer. Born in Montreal, Margaret is currently in her second year of a two-year residency at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. She holds a BFA in Photography from Concordia University (2007) and an MFA in Photography and Media from the California Institute of the Arts (2011). Margaret has exhibited work in Los Angeles, Berlin, Tokyo, and at the McCord Museum and MOCCA in Canada.
2016 The Stars Down To Earth, 23 minutes
2014 COCO, 43 minutes
2010 My Friend Once Told Me The Best Way To Say Fuck You In Los Angeles Is Trust Me, 3 minutes
2008 If you cannot give me love and peace, then give me bitter fame, 45 minutes, with Rachal Bradley
Selected Recent Exhibitions, Performances and Screenings
The Stars Down To Earth, Screening, Circuits and Currents – Athens School of Fine Arts, Athens
Rijksakademie OPEN, Rijksakademie, Amsterdam
The One Minutes: Tell Me Your Dream, Make It Succinct and Make It Spectacular, Group Screening, the oneminutes.org, Oberhausen, DE
Cinemania: The Years Without Light, Screening, ICA, London
COCO, Online Presentation and Screening, Images Festival, Toronto
COCO, Screening, Anthology Film Archives with Sex Magazine, New York
COCO, Pre-Screening and Conversation with Michael Ned Holte,
ltd los angeles, Los Angeles
COCO, Pre-Screening, Human Resources, Los Angeles
Spring Summer X fiLLes x COCO, solo presentation, ltd los angeles,
Margaret Haines and Scott Hobbs discuss Marjorie Cameron, curated by Patrick Jackson, USC Roski School of Art, Los Angeles
“To see a horse in your dream symbolizes strength, power, endurance, virility and sexual prowess. It also represents a strong, physical energy. You need to tame the wild forces within… To see a herd of wild horses in your dream signifies a sense of freedom and lack of responsibilities and duties. Perhaps it may also indicate your uncontrolled emotions. If you are riding a wild horse, then it represents unrestrained sexual desires.” Source: DreamMoods.com.
Writer, director, editor: Margaret V. Haines
Cinematographer: Monika Lenzcewska
Sound Score: Patrick Dyer
Sound Mix: Benoit Dame
Animation: Janelle Miau
Video Effects: Rollin Hunt
Production Consultant: Yelena Zhelezov
Script Editor: Aimee Goguen
Video Effects: Rollin Hunt and Rebecca St – John
Cast: Coco – Maria Olsen, Coco Urban, Jewel Steele, Robin Newman, Cara Elizabeth; Lula – Lula Steele; Coco’s Mom – Hope Urban; Gym Teacher – Phoebe Lewin; Shannon – Mackenzie Lord; Amantha – Cole Moss; Bexxa – Yasmin Walker
Love With Stranger x Coco
Love With Stranger x Coco explores different tropes of female identity – mixing personas, identities, some parafictional, some actual. 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, varying degrees of closeness were held with the actresses. These relationships are presented in the book and insert the role of director as a quasi-actress, collaborator and character.
The 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 study eventually leads to a meeting with Beat poet Aya Tarlow, once Cameron’s confidante. This encounter presents 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.”
Love With Stranger x Coco is a 144 page soft-cover perfect-bound book published by New Byzantium in 2012 in an edition of 500. Order a copy here.
A pdf of the text can be found here.
Babalon (also known as the Scarlet Woman, Great Mother or Mother of Abominations) is a goddess found in the mystical system of Thelema, which was established in 1904 with English author and occultist Aleister Crowley’s writing of The Book of the Law. In her most abstract form, Babalon represents the female sexual impulse and the liberated woman.