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Untitled (Menses)

Susan Mogul

1973 00:01:10 United StatesEnglishB&WMono4:31/2" open reel video


I moved three thousand miles from the east coast to join the feminist art program at CAL ARTS in 1973.  I had only been in LA three weeks when Judy Chicago took us to a "Menstruation" art exhibition at Womanspace Gallery.  The exhibit included every conceivable medium about menstruation - paintings, weavings, sculpture.  I was amazed - nothing was taboo.  Being outrageous was normal in this LA feminist art environment.  Around the same time I read "Female Eunuch" by Germaine Greer.  She wrote, and I paraphrase, "If you taste your blood when you scratch your finger, why don't you taste your menstrual blood?"  All of that inspired my menstruation video Untitled.  Ironically, this one-minute video initially shocked my mentor Judy Chicago.  But she rebounded quickly and in response gave me her 1971 menstruation lithograph, entitled "Red Flag."

Although Untitled was embraced by my peers in the CAL ARTS feminist art program, it caused a bit of an uproar when I screened it in Doug Edge's art class at UC Santa Barbara.  I was taken aback by the student's reaction.  I was 23 and had never shown my videos outside CAL ARTS.  I decided never to show that piece again.  I did not want to be defined by this video.  I felt Dressing Up, not exactly a subdued video, which I also screened that day, was more definitive of who I was as a person and an artist.

Untitled screened in 2009 for the first time in public at my retrospective at Visions du Reel, the Nyon International Film Festival in Switzerland.  And perhaps the only one who was a bit uncomfortable was me.

— Susan Mogul

About Susan Mogul

Since 1973 artist and filmmaker Susan Mogul has developed a body of work that is autobiographical, diaristic, and ethnographic. Her work addresses the human dilemma of self in relationship to family, community and the culture at large. Mogul’s videos of the early 1970s, as well as her recent documentaries, are often featured in exhibitions, publications, and college courses that examine the histories of video art, feminist art, and contemporary documentary.

“The conflict in forging one’s own identity in relation to a group — be it family or the culture at large — has been an underlying theme in my work. I was revealing attempts to define my self-image through humorous autobiographical anecdotes. In them I measured myself against influential role models.” 
— Susan Mogul