A young and heart-stoppingly sexy woman meets an older stranger at random on the street. They go back to the stranger's house. They dance. They gradually remove most of their clothes. Then all of their clothes. One of them seems very lonely and naive, the other obviously in control. The whole experience is caught on video. A series of such encounters ensues. What would you think if we told you the young woman had initiated the encounters, and the older strangers were the lonely and naive ones? You'd probably think it was Laurel Nakadate, and you'd be right.
"It doesn't sound good, does it?" she once asked an interviewer. "I meet strangers on the street, then I go home with them and make a video." The video artist, photographer, and filmmaker loves to turn expectations regarding power, sexuality, and ideas of "hunter and hunted" on their head. She's in your face but she's not too cocky or over-the-top. She induces viewers to question their own assumptions. Which is to say, she's not Courtney Love.
In "Fever Dreams," presented by the San Francisco Film Society and screening Thursday at the Roxie, you'll see work by Nakadate that's closer to David Lynch than Lydia Lunch. Stay the Same Never Change combines elements such as fireworks, young spectators in bright colors, and men wearing digital black strips over their eyes. It also has truckloads of stillness and silence.