The frame is filled with two concentric magnifying lenses, one larger than the other. Behind them is a mirror. The mirror turns and reflects the landscape around it. Distortions of the moving images appear in the lenses while the space behind remains stationary. A voiceover reports what is being seen in each of the layers of space. There are at least three simultaneous soundtracks. One scene is a country house and garden, another is a city apartment.
A.R.M. Around Moscow documents particpants in A.R.M. (American-Russian Matchmaking) to explore the relationship of personal power to domestic identity, and economic and political structure. Finley and Stoeltje followed 21 American men as they travelled to Russia to meet 500 local women. Each man was provided with a car, driver, translator, apartment, and meals for a "14-day tour of Russia's most beautiful and highly-educated women" at the cost of about $4,700.
Playing with cliched feminine personae, Eleanor Antin in The Adventures of a Nurse manipulates cut-out paper dolls to tell the story of innocent Nurse Eleanor who meets one gorgeous, intriguing, and available man after another. Nurse Eleanor is the fantasy creation of Antin, who is costumed as a nurse. Staged on a bedspread and acted by a cast of one, The Adventures of a Nurse moves through successive layers of irony to unravel a childlike, self-enclosed fantasy of a young woman’s life.
Chantal Akerman (1950-2015) gained international recognition with her three-and-a-half hour masterpiece, Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), which portrays a housewife’s dull existence and eventual violent action. She has continued to be one of Europe’s most innovative filmmakers with more than forty film and television projects to her credit. Akerman’s work is minimalist, structuralist, and feminist. Major themes in her films include women at work and at home; women’s relationships to men, other women, and children; food, love, sex, romance, art, and storytelling. In this interview from 1976 Akerman discusses her early films, and the development of her particular vision.
A captivating video about surveillance, identity, watching, and being watched, The Amateurist slides along the edges of horror and satire to create an unsettling portrait of a woman on the brink of a technologically driven madness.
Through her performances and videotapes, Eleanor Antin (b. 1935) creates characters (King, Ballerina, Black Movie Star, and Nurse) while spinning tales that blur fiction and history. She avoids good taste and flaunts concealed intentions, forcing one to stretch all possible associations to the breaking point.
“I believe interesting art has always been conceptual... that it appeals to the mind. That does not mean that it cannot seduce and attract through the eye,” Antin says in this interview with Nancy Bowen.
Using highly-manipulated and over-processed images, Latham investigates the process of video as inherently fragmented. Weaving together various people’s impressions of the artist and her work, the work demonstrates important parallels between video, storytelling, and the formation of identity — all processes of active fabrication that blend “lies” and truth in the construction of a certain reality, history, or past. Labeling an image of herself talking as “her most recent explanation,” Latham addresses “the construction of her video personality” as an identity outside of herself.
Archival Quality is comprised of four segments. In the first, “Memorativa", powerful childhood experiences of secrets are evoked. In “Olfatus", documentation of the artist’s performances are revealed by clicking on symbols in landscape. The third segment, “Gustus", is co-named “Slices of Life, My Videotapes (1976-89)” and takes the form of a giant pizza, slices of which, when clicked, advance towards the reader.“Vermio,” the fourth segment, consists of four text-and-image collages, sections of which can be “peeled off” to reveal loops of sound and image.
“In her brilliant video Art Herstory, [Freed] has restaged art history, putting herself in the model’s role in numerous paintings.... Time dissolves under her humorous assault—one moment in the painting, then out of the canvas and into that period, then back in the studio."
—Jonathan Price, “Video Art: a Medium Discovering Itself,” Art News 76 (January 1977)
In this interview, American cartoonist and author Lynda Barry (b. 1956) describes the philosophy of teaching that has inspired and mobilized her art since the 1970s. For Barry, the connection between gesture and thought collide in drawing and expose the therapeutic possibilities of art. Whether teaching undergraduate art students or prison inmates, her goal is to help others develop art making skills as an “external immune system” that will protect and monitor their emotional and mental health.
In this angry answer to the expectations advertsing culture places on women and their bodies, Tanaka deftly edits commercial images and sound-bite slogans to underscore the message such images carry: that women exist to please men, as wives, mothers, and lovers. Tanaka balances such mainstream images with black and white footage of herself lying naked next to her own doubled image, rejecting the mainstream model of female sexuality that regularly consists of seductive glances and suggestive poses arranged and pre-ordained for the male gaze of the spectator.
"Relating a tale told by a girl on a swing, Beneath the Skin explores the contrast between the impersonal horror of a news story heard on television and the involvement of the storyteller in a nightmare, which gradually becomes more familiar and commonplace as the tale unfolds. The straightforward approach of the teller is humorously or frighteningly contrasted by a bombardment of visual images which mock or intensify the macabre flavor of the work."