Jenny Hval has released the third single off her forthcoming The Practice of Love, which is set to arrive this Friday, Sept. 13. Following the sultry and surreal “High Alice” and “Ashes to Ashes,” “Accident” is a sparkling electronic track that interrogates human value and the ethics of production and reproduction. The video, directed by Hval’s frequent collaborator Zia Anger, takes up a history of correspondence between the two creators on the subjects of creativity and childbirth.
“Once she was a mystery of life,” Hval sings, with an ironic sweetness: “Now she is Skyping with her friend / They are both childless / It rings a hollow tone: childless / No longer a mystery of life / Just less.” Anger and Hval strive to find meaning in life beyond reproduction, asking what value human life can hold when life itself might be little more than an accident. The video features Anger’s mother, Barbara Anger, pantomiming the actions narrated by Hval—having a Skype call; putting on stretch mark cream—and moving jerkily, interspersed with shots of pulsating swimming jellyfish. “Accident” concludes with clips from several of Hval’s other videos made alongside Anger (“Conceptual Romance,” “That Battle Is Over,” “Sabbath” and “Innocence Is Kinky”), suggesting that if Hval and Anger are indeed accidents, their otherness is its own gift: They are “born to write” and “born to burn.”
Hval and Anger released a statement about their collaboration, which compares art-making and child-rearing:
With the release of this video we planned on publishing a dialogue between the two of us. Something that spoke about the kind of work we are doing, and that also referenced the theme of the video—the pairing of production and reproduction.
It’s a given that the product of some artistic work is worthless. You are therefore expected to ‘mother’ it instead of working and being compensated for it. And sometimes this is the best kind of work. Because it doesn’t feel valuable. Because not everybody will like it, or understand it. Because it won’t immediately be sucked up into the capitalist scroll. It has time and space to be conceived of, to sit in utero, to be birthed, to have its umbilical cord cut, and to live, to breathe.
The same is true of our collaboration. We are both seen and heard by each other, and often validated by our responses to each other. However big (with a video) or small (with an email.) Our collaboration validates each other’s right to breathe, to live, to speak. It’s the closest we get to magic.
This dialogue however, felt rushed. We will publish it at a later date. Until then.
Watch the surreal video for “Accident” below. You can revisit the details of The Practice of Love here.