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Blood and Guts in Hollywood: Four Works by Laura Parnes

Video Data Bank is proud to present the wonderful work of artist Laura Parnes. This two-volume box set features four video works that highlight her interest in the deconstruction of narrative film conventions, including her reimagining of Kathy Acker's 1984 novel, Blood and Guts in High School.  Included in the set is a 44-page monograph containing an essay on the collection and interview with Parnes by writer and novelist Chris Kraus.

"Filmed on bare-bones sets put together in gallery spaces, the video is a model of how to bring off an ambitious project with scant resources, and also of how to respect source material while transforming it.  And where Acker's novels have a quick-hit crash-and-burn intensity, Ms. Parnes video floats like a shark, forever hovering, but always watching and moving."

– Holland Cotter, New York Times, 2009

# Title Artists Run Time Year Country
1 The Only Ones Left Laura Parnes 00:06:25 2007 United States
2 Blood and Guts in High School Laura Parnes 00:50:27 2007 United States
3 Hollywood Inferno (Episode One) Laura Parnes 00:38:17 2001 United States
4 No Is Yes Laura Parnes 00:38:19 1998 United States

The Only Ones Left

Laura Parnes
2007 | 00:06:25 | United States | English | B&W and Color | Stereo | 4:3 | Video


The Only Ones Left (three-channel video installation*), featuring actor Jim Fletcher, weaves film noir and mafia genre references with CEO diatribes, while also exposing the conventions of the feature film climax. The three channels of video depict all plot points of the Hollywood film climax concurrently. The channels are arranged chronologically from left to right. This simultaneity draws attention to the familiarity of the subject matter and the inevitability of the violent consequences awaiting the characters. Central to the installation is a confrontation that pits brother against brother, as the gangsters must attack and kill their own in accordance with the code of "honor". As will all the Godfathers, the main character is willing to resort to violence in the face of significant risk of catastrophe (self-destruction and the destruction of the family). Further, his decisions are perfectly rational within the framework of his prevailing ideology and the institutions that embody it.

*This is a single-channel version available for screening rental or educational purchase. For inquiries regarding three-channel installation version, please contact us.

Blood and Guts in High School

Laura Parnes
2007 | 00:50:27 | United States | English | Color | Stereo | 4:3 |


Blood and Guts in High School features actress Stephanie Vella in a series of video installations* that re-imagine punk-feminist icon Kathy Acker's book of the same title. The book received noteriety from 1978-1982 during the rise of Reagan republicanism and the emergence of punk rock. In Parnes' interpretation, each video-chapter presents a typical scene in the life of Janie bracketed by U.S. news events from the time period in which the book was written. These events saturate the character's daily experience, informing her adolescent, nihilistic worldview and her desire for rebellion. As the viewer looks back at pivotal historical events (Jonestown Massacre, Moral Majority, Three Mile Island, etc.) connections are drawn in relation to our current political situation.

"Shot with an hallucination Kubrickian eye, Blood and Guts brings a sleek cinematic esthetic to the often ineptly-lensed genre of gallery video, and offers the form a new role: as Hollywood's unconscious, peeping into the nightmare from which we cannot awake."

--Ed Halter, Village Voice critic writing for Cinematexas

*This is a single-channel version available for screening rental or educational purchase. For inquiries regarding installation version, please contact us.

Hollywood Inferno (Episode One)

Laura Parnes
2001 | 00:38:17 | United States | English | Color | Stereo | 4:3 | Video


Parnes moves further into her interrogation of horror genres and the art world, with their sometimes over-lapping cults of personality. Grappling with the danger of beauty without criticality, Hollywood Inferno takes the viewer through the alienating world of a teenager named Sandy, a modern-day Dante, and follows where her aspirations toward stardom lead her.

“Parnes’ video advances the other, much darker view—that sex and self-expression are the ultimate commodities, and things don’t always work out so nicely for the youthquake in our alienated, violent land. … Parnes’ anger rivals Dante’s—or at the very least, Todd Solondz’s—in her description of affectless youth selling itself down the river, with only Satan (in various guises) serving as an adult role model.” —Tom Moody, Digital Media Tree, (20 January 2003)

"The performances under Ms. Parnes’s direction are funny, raunchy and skillfully maladroit. The dialogue, sleazy and fatuous, may even sound familiar: much of it is excerpted from "found" sources, including A Clockwork Orange, a George Lucas interview and the writings of a crypto-conservative art critic. Ms Parnes, who has a smart, notably unconservative critical eye, is now at work on her first feature film. I look forward to it." -Holland Cotter, The New York Times

Note: Hollywood Inferno (Episode One) is also available as a two-channel installation. 

No Is Yes

Laura Parnes
1998 | 00:38:19 | United States | English | Color | Stereo | 4:3 | Video


A combination of experimental and narrative approaches which explore the commodification of rebellion as it is marketed to youth culture, through the eyes of two drug-dealing, teenage girls from Brooklyn who "accidentally" kill and mutilate their favorite alternative rock star. Their obsession with murders and makeovers and their confusion between fashion and transgression lead these girls into a world where nihilism is bought and sold, and rebellion is impossible.

“Parnes’ video No Is Yes is a… narrative in which two teenage girls murder a misogynist punk rocker in a Thelma and Louise style face-off, give him a Clueless style makeover (stripping him nude, tying him up, adorning him with knife inflicted scratches), and then ask their mentor, a dominatrix named Sarah, for Pulp Fiction style help in disposing of the body. (“Who do you think I am, Harvey Keitel?” Sarah asks). Enlivened by quick editing and MTV-style inserts, No ls Yes is a teen rebellion film reinterpreted for a gallery context with a bleak message—that rebellion in a world of commodified nihilism is meaningless.”

--Tom Moody, VERY Magazine (Fall, 1999)