Artist Dakota Noot turns scissors, paint, and tape into a lively playland of cut paper characters and scenarios, using his body (and maybe yours) as a stage to activate darkly whimsical drawing, painting, performance, video, and installation. Like a paper doll’s accouterments in a quirky dialog with surrealism, Noot’s exploration of queer and Midwestern identity is at once wholesome and subversive, fantastical and funny, pointed and poignant. A parade of human-animal hybrids and intimate releasing of pop-culture pressures, Noot’s world of finely detailed, exuberantly chromatic, and endlessly inventive expressions range from movement videos to full-room, often interactive, multimedia installations. Noot is currently engaged in a week-long residency at Coaxial Arts, which culminates this weekend in two nights of performance around the theme of cooking meat starring his boisterous character Medora, the Queen of Steaks, with the goal, as Noot says, to “laugh, cry, and question why.”
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
DAKOTA NOOT: My daycare growing up was my dad Paul Noot’s afterschool art classes, so I always made art. I’m thankful for having a family that’s never questioned me being an artist.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
A Coloring Book gone wrong (or right). Or, The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo discovering Crayola.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
I would have gone into writing, probably either children’s books or young adult fantasy stories. There’s still time for that! I grew up writing fan fiction.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
Going to Claremont Graduate University was my ticket out of North Dakota. Rachel Lachowicz exposed me to installation art. Amitis Motevalli and Anne Bray pushed me to performance, and I’m finally taking up its call 6 years later. Also, Lisa Adams is my art-hero in her dedication to painting.
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
The culture, food, and people are incomparable to anywhere else. I feel accepted in L.A. like I never did before—and the film industry always inspires my artwork. It’s that spirit of Kenneth Anger or Roger Corman that lives on.
When was your first show?
I think my first group show was at the Hive Gallery in Downtown LA in 2016. My mom had come down from North Dakota, and we had a fun moment where somebody called us “hipsters!” I guess we have style.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show or project?
I currently have a week-long residency at Coaxial Arts that will end with two performances—on Saturday, June 10 (8pm) and Sunday, June 11 (5pm). I will perform wearing paper costumes with a cutout installation I’ve made. Laugh, cry, and question why.
What artist living or dead would you most like to show or work with?
Vaginal Davis. Reading her blog (while in North Dakota) inspired me to move out and come to Los Angeles. I wanted to see her Los Angeles, even as she moved to Berlin. I hope to thank her one day! She even worked for the LA Weekly!
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
I’m obsessed with the jazz soundtrack for Jess Franco’s film Vampyros Lesbos. It’s so upbeat. Euro-horror from Jess Franco and Jean Rollin inspires a lot of horror references in my work.
Website and social media handles, please!
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