Tour Without End
Laura Parnes

Laura Parnes’s Tour Without End (2014-2019) is a multi-platform installation that casts real-life musicians, artists, and actors as bands on tour, and expands into a cross-generational, Trump–era commentary on contemporary culture and politics. It features members of Gang Gang Dance, Le Tigre, The Julie Ruin, MEN, Eartheater, MGMT, Light Asylum, and more.

Shot in real environments and situations, the core group of players improvised based on semi-scripted scenes. Because many of these performers are legends themselves in the New York City downtown scene, they are archetypes playing archetypes. The work revels in the sometimes hilarious—but always complex—band dynamics that the characters endure while touring, collaborating, and aging in a youth-driven music industry. As the players move in and out of character, blending fiction and real life, the film moves in and out of non-linear narrative and historical document. Shot from 2014 to 2018 at over 15 DIY music spaces in and around New York City—many of which have since shuttered their doors—the film acts as an urgent time capsule for the rapidly gentrifying city.

In addition to the film, Tour Without End also highlights the extensive and growing archive of live performance in NYC shot during the four-year production schedule and the raw footage from improvised scenes, while portraits of performers taken by Justine Kurland are arranged in a grid. The film’s multitude of characters include: Wooster Group founder Kate Valk, Jim Fletcher (The NYC Players), musicians Lizzi Bougatsos, (Gang Gang Dance), Kathleen Hanna (The Julie Ruin), Brontez Purnell (The Younger Lovers), Eileen Myles, Alexandra Drewchin (Eartheater), Nicole Eisenman, K8 Hardy, Johanna Fateman (Le Tigre) Shannon Funchess (Light Asylum), JD Samson (MEN), Gary Indiana, Kembra Pfahler, (Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black), Rachel Mason, Tom McGrath, Matthew Asti (MGMT), Becca Blackwell, Christen Clifford, Alessandra Genovese (Crush), Rogelio Ramos (Love Pig), Kenya Robinson (Cheeky LaShae) and Neon Music (Youth Quake).

About the Artist

Laura Parnes’s multi-platform, lens-based projects craft darkly comedic narratives of trauma and repressed memory around mass-culture experiences and youthful rites of passage. Using historical, literary and popular culture-based references, she addresses issues related to cultural production and societal malaise. Herwork has been screened and exhibited widely in the US and internationally, including at the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; MoMA PS1, NY; Miami Museum of Contemporary Art, FL; Brooklyn Museum; Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art, Athens; The International Film Festival Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands; and Museo Nacional Centro De Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; and NY and on PBS and Spanish Television. Recently she had solo exhibitions at LA><, LA; Participant Inc and Fitzroy Gallery, both N; and solo screenings at the Museum of Modern Art, and The Kitchen, New York City. Parnes is a 2013 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellow, a 2014 NYFA recipient, and a 2016 Creative Capital Awardee. Video Data Bank published a box set of her work, and Participant Press published a book of her scripts titled Blood and Guts in Hollywood: Two Screenplays by Laura Parnes, with an introduction by Chris Kraus. She has also directed music videos for The Julie Ruin and Le Tigre.

Presented by Pioneer Works and curated by David Everitt Howe, the installation of Laura Parnes: Tour Without End was previously exhibited at Burchfield Penney, Buffalo, NY, and Human Resources, Los Angeles, CA (both 2019). A one-night screening of the film was shown at The Wexner Center for the Arts, OH (2019) and The Kitchen, NY (2018). Tour Without End is made possible with funds from The John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Creative Capital, and the New York State Council on the Arts in Partnership with Wave Farm: Media Arts Assistance Fund, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts, Electronic Media and Film Program, with the support of the New York State Legislature. The artist would like to give special thanks to Petros Lales.