This video is about seduction. The audience is seduced by the female narrator, while at the same time repelled by the seductress' desperate need for love and approval. The title is ironic: although the narrator "likes girls for friends better than boys," the attraction is masochistic and destructive.
Modesty, whimsy, and clarity of design grace the work of Joe Brainard (1941-1994), an artist and writer whose evocations of memory and desire perhaps found their greatest expression in his memoir-poem I Remember.
Setting her pixelvision camera on herself and her room, Benning searches for a sense of identity and respect as a woman and a lesbian. Acting alternately as confessor and accuser, the camera captures Benning’s anger and frustration at feeling trapped by social prejudices.
This experimental video breaks many the silences surrounding lesbians and AIDS. Interweaving the voices of two friends—an HIV+ Latina lesbian and an HIV- Jewish lesbian—the video juxtaposes two very different yet overlapping experiences. The piece points to the often unspoken tensions occurring within this epidemic—survival and power, mourning and loss.
Benning illustrates a lustful encounter with a “bad girl,” through the gender posturing and genre interplay of Hollywood stereotypes: posing for the camera as the rebel, the platinum blonde, the gangster, the '50s crooner, and the heavy-lidded vamp. Cigarette poses, romantic slow dancing, and fast-action heavy metal street shots propel the viewer through the story of the love affair. Benning’s video goes farther than romantic fantasy, describing other facets of physical attraction including fear, violence, lust, guilt and total excitement.
A queer rewriting of the events surrounding the 1968 National Democratic Convention in Chicago from the point of view of French writer Jean Genet. Along the way Genet will meet, amongst others, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, the Yippies, the Black Panther Party and the Chicago police force... Ultimately, the video is about the difficulty of aligning political and sexual desires.
Taking queer artistic license, Dougherty and Leslie Singer together portray a gay male playwright who took 1960s London by storm. The result is a witty play on narcissism and split personality that captures the banality of stardom while paying tribute to promiscuity and transgression. Filmed in black and white pixelvision and color video, this tape continues Dougherty’s exploration of counter-culture identity through lesbian portrayal, the same ingenious bait-and-switch device seen at work in the lesbian portrayal of the Beatles in her earlier tape, Grapefruit.
A rockumentary about East Village club Pyramid star John Sex. The blonde, coifed performer exposes his penchant for padding his package with socks and explains that his last name is the result of his ancestors’ “Americanization” of his native name Sexton. Featuring Miss Maggie, Katy K, Tom Rubnitz, Kenny Scharf, and Kestutis Nakas.
Benning gives a chronology of her crushes and kisses, tracing the development of her nascent sexuality. Addressing the camera with an air of seduction and romance, giving the viewer a sense of her anxiety and special delight as she came to realize her lesbian identity.
These five short videos introduce Judy, a paper maché puppet who ruminates on her position in society. Like Judy, of the famous Punch and Judy puppet duo, Benning’s Judy seems to experience the world from the outside, letting things happen to her rather than making things happen around her.
"Third Known Nest is a collection of nine short works completed approximately one per year from 1991 to 1999. Interwoven with nine quotations from some of my favorite writers, the eighteen short entries in Third Known Nest function as an intimate visual diary—fractured pictures from my day-to-day life. I carried a Super-8 camera with me whenever and wherever I traveled, and also at home—just running errands or in the garden. I shot nearly a hundred fifty-foot reels of film.
Kiss The Boys And Make Them Die explores how memory, sexuality, and the self are created and enforced through the family story. The video chronicles how the social act of loving women becomes channeled into narratives of incest, desire for the mother, loss of the father, separation from the family, death and self-destruction. In this work, sexuality, difference and language are paralleled with haunting memories of a childhood ghost that both desires and hates women.
Part of a campaign initiated in 1989, this video is a component of Gran Fury’s plan to raise consciousness and advance medical and federal reform on AIDS policy. These ads ran on TV as a counterpart to controversial bus posters, which generated some intensely negative reactions. Using Benneton’s "United Colors" ad campaign to a decidedly different end, simple but powerful images and modern text deliver an enlighteningly direct message.
The Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven né Plotz, was an unsung member of the Dada Movement. A poet, artist, runaway, and all around public provocateur; she actively did not fit into her historical moment, and like most misfits, suffered for it. As with many women artists throughout history, her cultural legacy has been obscured and in some instances appropriated into the oeuvres of better known male peers.