Feminism

Blumenthal constructs a loose narrative around the sexual evolution of a woman (played by Yvonne Rainer) through a stunning collage of images appropriated from TV and film. Certain images come to dominate this effusive stream—tall buildings, sex scenes, an Elvis movie, the courtroom, fireworks. Doublecross pits the indeterminate, disruptive power of the erotic against the rigid, normalizing structures of family, law, marriage, popular culture, movies, and music—societal institutions that codify sexual relations.

In this interview Cecilia Dougherty describes her work and her explorations into family interactions, outsider psychology, role-playing, lesbian sexuality, and popular culture. Her videos Grapefruit (1989) and Coal Miner’s Granddaughter (1991) work from within mass culture norms to create a lesbian dialogue within the “normal”—what Dougherty calls “the life of the ordinary lesbian and her working-class family.” Her more recent vides explore lesbian identity within a separate social sphere.

This video is about the idea of narcissistic transference, sexual dependency, and the failure to distinguish between the self and the loved one. It is also about using love to create a border between oneself and political and psychological oppression.

This title is also available on Cecilia Dougherty Videoworks: Volume 2.

"The dream and the waking is a documentation of my commute between New York and Boston, which I make every week for my job. I wanted to document not only the fact of the commute--where I go and how I get there, what I am leaving behind and what I am going to--but also the stream of thought that runs through my mind on this commute. The trip was not something I would normally do unless I absolutely had to, and for almost a year it was the one part of my life that never changed. The space of the commute is like a non-space, like a recurring dream.

Sassy, iconoclastic, and never-married, Los Angeles filmmaker Susan Mogul rides shotgun with ex-lovers, almost lovers, and her Dad, in a road movie turned inside out. Conversations with each driving man - pornographer, tuba player, TV critic, long haul truck driver, and more - are catalysts to reflect upon the past and comment about the present.

Dry Blood, 2017

In Dry Blood (Sagre Seca), various historical moments of political activism in Mexico are superimposed and corroded on the emulsion of expired film. Footage from the International Women's Day in 2017 is coupled with the recording of a powerful speech about the gruesome aftermath of the 2006 civil unrest in San Salvador Atenco.

The final work in the Damnation of Faust Trilogy, ironically titled Charming Landscape, investigates the way in which the urban landscape is a place "where you lose your identity.” Two female residents of the inner city tell their stories in casual, on-the-street interviews. Building upon the theme of submerged violence, Birnbaum presents the fiery culmination of the legend in eerie slow-motion collage scenes of political unrest — from the lunchroom protests of Greensboro, NC, to the student revolts in Tiannanmen Square.

Exchange, 1973

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.

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.

The Fancy, 2000

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Framed, 1998

Framed is the second installment of the longer piece, Video Bites: Triptych for the Turn of the Century. Offering a series of visual metaphors discussing the ubiquity of the "frame" in contemporary life, Braderman uses her trademark chroma-key to juxtapose exterior landscapes with television clips, advertisements, and news footage.

Framed originally premiered as part of Video Bites: Triptych for the Turn of the Century in 1998; it was re-edited in 2017. Braderman co-directed Framed with Dana Master. 

Freebird, 1993

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.

Future From Inside is the last in the trilogy begun in 2016, by Dani and Sheilah ReStack (also including Strangely Ordinary this Devotion and Come Coyote.) The work traces the ReStack collaboration, as it manifests in life and in work.

Future From Inside is the last in the trilogy begun in 2016, by Dani and Sheilah ReStack (also including Strangely Ordinary this Devotion and Come Coyote.) The work traces the ReStack collaboration, as it manifests in life and in work.

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.

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.

In 1971, graduate student Gloria Orenstein receives a call from surrealist artist Leonora Carrington that sparks a lifelong journey into art, ecofeminism, and shamanism. A wife and mother of two writing her dissertation for New York University, Orenstein never expects to have her life transformed through female friendship.

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.

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.

A Hand in Two Ways (Fisted) is a looping meditation on night as space of mysterious energetic transmissions. Animals, human bodies, children, ritual, and performance are investigated as zones of conflict, desire, and a visceral movement that is more felt than seen.