The Happiest Day (2004)
A Victorian fairy tale told in the patois of an adventure video game, The Happiest Day is a journey back to a time that never was. Meandering through a fantastical computer-animated forest we come upon strangers enacting odd and playful rituals. These live-action sequences are loose reenactments of 1960’s and 1970’s performance artworks restaged in an Arcadian setting. The ecstatic jouissance of the original performances, with their primitivist nudity, shamanistic catharsis and pointed immediacy is re-located to a fabulous storybook world. Held at a near distance in this digital wilderness, we can endlessly revisit, but never quite touch Vito Acconci’s Trademarks or Herman Nitsch’s Orgies-Mysteries Theatre. Mingling conceptual art with 19th century illustration, live action with animation, history and fiction, the video presents a delightful hybrid language of pleasure and longing.