"Conspiracy Of Lies speaks of the alienation of minorities, of consumer culture, urban isolation and the fine balance between mental order and chaos. The video begins with a voice (my own) recounting the story of the discovery of a series of diary entries and lists written by an anonymous author. When I found the texts, I assumed the author to be a white, gay man, like myself. Through the use of twelve narrators of different race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation, I attempted to destabilize my own subjectivity and challenge my pre-existing assumptions regarding difference.
From 1970 to 1972, Arthur Ginsberg and Video Free America recorded the private life of a not-so-average American couple-Carel Row and Ferd Eggan. She is a porn actress and filmmaker; he is a bisexual junkie. The video verite camera captures the desires and frustrations of their evolving relationship and their responses to the ongoing videotaping exercise. The tape, a study in "the effect of living too close to an electronic medium," reveals attitudes and discussions that also render it a fascinating social document of the west coast counterculture.
From the point of view of the psychoananlyst's chair, we witness images that place us implicitly within the scene. The images depict two embracing men, and suggest a complex and ambiguous web of associations. The embrace is both erotic and tender, and invites questions about power relationships. The pain of love and possible rejection is exposed through the flash of a naked leg, or the vulnerability of a fleeting expression.
Covert Action is a stunning melange of rapid-fire retro imagery accomplishing Child’s proclaimed goal to “disarm my movies.” “I wanted to examine the erotic behind the social, and remake those gestures into a dance that would confront their conditioning and, as well, relay the multiple fictions the footage suggests (the ‘facts’ forever obscured in the fragments left us). The result is a narrative developed by its periphery, a story like rumor: impossible to trace, disturbing, explosive.”
Ann Cvetkovich is the Ellen Clayton Garwood Centennial Professor of English and Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of a number of books and works also with documentary film, memoirs, music and dance performances, and visual art. Her work focuses on feminist and queer theory, affect and feeling, trauma, theories of the archive and oral history.
This video is a moving personal documentary about Danny, a friend of Kybartas who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1986. This powerful work explores the reason for Danny’s return home and his attempts to reconcile his relationship with his family members who had difficulty facing his homosexuality and his imminent death. Retracing Danny’s memory of his once-high lifestyle in the clubs and gyms of Miami, Danny avoids sentimentalizing its subject as it juxtaposes images, text, and voice-over to build a sense of the psychological struggle brought on by Danny’s impending, premature death.
“But we are alone, darling child, terribly, isolated each from the other; so fierce is the world’s ridicule we cannot speak or show our tenderness; for us death is stronger than life, it pulls like a wind through the dark, all our cries burlesqued in joyless laughter; and with the garbage of loneliness stuffed down us until our guts burst bleeding green, we go screaming round the world, dying in our rented rooms, nightmare hotels, eternal homes of the transient heart.”
—Truman Capote, Other Voices, Other Rooms (New York: Random House, 1948)
Dirty Laundry speculates upon the buried narratives of gender and sexuality in Chinese-Canadian history of the 19th Century, when Chinese communities were almost exclusively male. A story about a chance late-night encounter between a steward and a passenger on a train interweaves with documentary interviews with historians and writers and historical documents brought to life. The video poses nagging questions about the personal and political stakes in the writing of history and in our interpretations of the past.
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.
These three videos from Cecilia Dougherty deal with particular states of mind: that of a participant in a symbiotic relationship, the melancholy felt at the end of a romantic union, and the solitary non-space created by a regular commute.