Feminism

1973
Exchange

In 1972, Robert Morris and Lynda Benglis agreed to exchange videos in order to develop a dialogue between each other’s work. Morris’s video, Exchange, is a part of that process—a response to Benglis’s Mumble. At the beginning of the piece, Morris comments on the nature of the collaboration, their interaction, and what they represent to each other. Morris’s speculations about work, travel, and relationships are juxtaposed with frozen images of race cars, Benglis herself, images from Benglis's video, and Manet’s Olympia.

1973
Hermine Freed, Family Album

Over a montage of family photographs, Freed’s narration questions the consistency of memory and self over time, with Freed displaying a quizzical and sometimes hostile relation to her past. In a manner that recalls philosopher Roland Barthes’s poetic unraveling of photography—in particular photography’s power to bind memory and desire within a still image—Freed attempts to uncover the “stranger” that is her childhood self and discover how her past has shaped her present.

2000
The Fancy

The Fancy is a speculative, experimental work that explores the life of Francesca Woodman (1958-1981), evoked by the published catalogues of and about her photographs. Structural in form, the video radically reorganizes information from the catalogues in order to pose questions about biographical form, history and fantasy, female subjectivity, and issues of authorship and intellectual property.

1978
Feathers: An Introduction

Feathers: An Introduction is a self-portrait centered on the story of Latham's grandmother’s comforter which, old and worn, scatters feathers everywhere. Displaying an arresting stage presence, Latham addresses the viewer as a potential friend or lover, speaking in a soft-spoken near-whisper, and gingerly touching and kissing the camera lens and monitor. Then, almost mocking the video’s intimacy, Latham gives us close-ups of herself chewing a sandwich and shaving her armpits, heightening the sense that she has been playing cat and mouse with the viewer all along.

1973
Female Sensibility

As two heavily made-up women take turns directing each other and submitting to each other's kisses and caresses, it becomes increasingly obvious that the camera is their main point of focus. Read against feminist film theory of the "male gaze", the action becomes a highly charged statement of the sexual politics of viewing and role-playing; and, as such, is a crucial text in the development of early feminist video.

1975
Susan Mogul, Feminist Studio Workshop Videoletter

In 1975, the Feminist Studio Workshop (I was a member) at the Woman’s Building in LA, the Women’s Interart Center in New York City, and another feminist organization in Washington DC, attempted to set up a video exchange among feminist art organizations. This was the first videoletter on our end. I don’t know if another one was ever made.

The videoletter is a tour of the Woman’s Building. Pam McDonald, with microphone in hand, another workshop member, and myself, served as guides through the building. It was shot with a black and white video portopack.

1995
Fingers and Kisses

Cheang has taken her camera to the streets for a candid glimpse of lesbian public sexuality. If Asian women and lesbians share a certain amount of invisibility in the culture, Fingers and Kisses offers not only a bold representation of both, but a challenge to the question “What do lesbians do?” Tokyo’s own out-and-loud music by Chu punctuates the narrative as what begins in the streets continues under the sheets.

Script and performance by Izumo Marou and Claire Maree.

With Superdyke Inc. Japan.

Music by Chu.

1998
Flat is Beautiful

Flat is Beautiful is an experimental live-action cartoon using masks, animation, subtitles, drawings, and dramatic scenes to investigate the psychic life of an androgynous eleven-year-old girl. Growing up in a working class neighborhood with her single mother and gay roommate, Taylor confronts the loneliness of living between masculine and feminine in a culture obsessed with defining gender difference. Shifting between black and white film and grainy pixelvision video, Flat is Beautiful explores the internal and external worlds of sad people.

1993
Freebird

Silver directs and performs all the roles in this raucous and hilarious music video rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s "Freebird", the infamous Southern rock anthem for an entire generation of 1970s male youth. In this spoof of straight mass culture, Silver flips ironically between roles; from a lesbian proudly proclaiming her sexuality at the Academy Awards, to an in-concert Coors-drinking Ronnie Van Zant, and, finally, to a black-lace lesbian lounge swinger celebrating the wild, colorful world of “out” visibility.

1995
German Song

Shot in black and white Super 8, this lyrical short follows a wandering, disengaged youth through grey afternoons. German Song features the hard-edged music of Come, an alternative band from Boston.

1992
Girl Power

Set to music by Bikini Kill (an all-girl band from Washington), Sadie Benning's Girl Power is a raucous vision of what it means to be a radical girl in the 1990s. Benning relates her personal rebellion against school, family, and female stereotypes as a story of personal freedom, telling how she used to model like Matt Dillon and skip school to have adventures alone. Informed by the underground “riot grrrl” movement, this tape transforms the image politics of female youth, rejecting traditional passivity and polite compliance in favor of radical independence and a self-determined sexual identity.

1989
Cecilia Dougherty, Grapefruit

With an all-female cast, featuring Suzie Bright as John Lennon, Cecilia Dougherty's Grapefruit plays with the romanticized history of the iconic Fab Four, gently mocking John and Yoko’s banal squabbles and obsessive rituals of self-display. Based obliquely on Yoko Ono’s book, the piece works on many levels to reposition this mythic tale of the Beatles by casting '80s women in mod drag—effectively mapping the lesbian sub-culture onto heterosexual mass culture.

2001
Ground Floor

A woman is lying on her back on the floor.  She seems to be tied down on the ground, but she is holding her ankles with her own hands.  She wears only tights and a pair of high-heeled red shoes.  Her hair-covered face makes her an anonymous victim of the camera, which is making converging circles around her body.

This title is also available on Hester Scheurwater Videoworks: Volume 1.

2012
Half-Lies: The Videoworks of Ximena Cuevas

Video Data Bank is proud to present the wonderful work of prolific video artist Ximena Cuevas in our latest DVD box set, Half-Lies: The Videoworks of Ximena Cuevas. This four volume box set features 25 videos by the award-winning artist, spanning 21 years, and is accompanied by a 75-page booklet containing the following essays that examine aspects of Cuevas’s work: