Performance

1976
The Amazing Bow Wow

The only Benglis video with a discernable plot, The Amazing Bow-Wow follows the adventures of a talking, hermaphroditic dog given to Rexina and Babu by a carnival barker. Rexina and Babu soon decide to make the dog a sideshow act hoping to earn their fortune. Babu eventually becomes jealous of Rexina's devotion to the dog and one night attempts to castrate it, accidentally cutting off its tongue. The dog's head becomes hideous and skeletal, ruining its sideshow career and the profits.

1999
American Psycho(drama): Sigmund Freud vs. Henry Ford

This humorous selection of performance-oriented videos maps a trajectory between consumer society and psychoanalytic confession. HalfLifers perform two rescue missions using colored snack food and everyday objects as means towards transcendence. In The Horror, Emily Breer and Joe Gibbons recuperate Coppola’s Apocalypse Now as a day at the beach. Gibbons’s solo work Multiple Barbie features the artist as a smooth-talking psychoanalyst, gently attempting to fuse the mute doll’s shattered plastic psyche.

2002
Anal Masturbation and Object Loss

"Ever on the lookout for learning opportunities, Reinke envisions an art institute where you don’t have to make anything, and with a library full of books glued together. All the information’s there—you just don’t have to bother reading it!"
—New York Video Festival (2002)

 

1980
Artists TV Network, Laurie Anderson: Conversations

Laurie Anderson is perhaps best known as a performance artist who works in both the art and commercial worlds. Anderson talks to Steven Poser through a voice manipulator, commenting on how performing abroad has informed her work and her perspective on American culture, especially regarding issues of language and voice in communication.

This video was produced for the Artists TV Network series Conversations.

2005
Ani(fe)mal(e)

Woman, monster, animal? A portrait of a woman's face, the movement slowed down and reversed, the grotesquely made-up face examined in close-up.

2009
Animal

Masked men prowling in the bushes and not touching anything but satin, dandelions and flesh.

 

1981
Linda Montano, Anorexia Nervosa

Through the testimonies of five women, this video lays out the complex problem of anorexia, detailing how the disease develops as a response to both personal and societal pressures. The common thread in these accounts is how the disease clusters around a need to control one’s body, and how not-eating becomes a way to gain that control, with anxieties and frustrations being displaced onto a negative obsession with food.

1997
Aquatics

Actions speed up, slow down, and run at regular speed. The usual props are there, as is a wet dog. Subtle nuances are revealed as the behavior of the anxiety-laden protagonists is rendered, for once, in real-time.

This title is also available on HalfLifers: Rescue Series and HalfLifers: The Complete History.

1978
Arbitrary Fragments

Using highly-manipulated and over-processed images, Latham investigates the process of video as inherently fragmented. Weaving together various people’s impressions of the artist and her work, the work demonstrates important parallels between video, storytelling, and the formation of identity — all processes of active fabrication that blend “lies” and truth in the construction of a certain reality, history, or past. Labeling an image of herself talking as “her most recent explanation,” Latham addresses “the construction of her video personality” as an identity outside of herself.

2016
The Art of Intervention: The Performances of JuanSí González

This documentary explores the groundbreaking street performances of Cuban artist JuanSí González during the 1980s. A pioneer of relational aesthetic practice in Cuba, González transformed public spaces in Havana into laboratories for edgy exchanges between artists and the public and created numerous works that threw art's role in a socialist society into question. His experiments provoked surprise from his peers and suspicion from state authorities. Twenty years later, the artist sat down to reflect on the relevance of those performances for the development of Cuban contemporary art.

1988
The Artists: Performance Art (Rosenthal, Dresher, Coates)

This tape compiles three profiles of performance artists: A Creative Synthesis: George Coates Performance Works (10:00), The Performance World of Rachel Rosenthal (16:00), and Paul Dresher Ensemble (08:00).

1988
Robert Ashley: An Interview

Contemporary American composer and performance artist Robert Ashley (1930-2014) was a pioneer in the development of large-scale, collaborative performance works and new uses of language in operas and recordings. His landmark project, Perfect Lives, was opera produced for television in seven half-hour episodes.

1971
Association Area

As a document of an early performance, this video details the process of orientating the body and self in space, providing a physical metaphor for the process of adjusting oneself in society.

"Blindfolded, ears plugged: our goal is to sense each other’s movement and bearing, to attempt to assume the same movement and bearing. An off-screen voice, heard only by the audience, gives directions that would help us attain our goal."

—Vito Acconci, "Concentration-Container-Assimilation," Avalanche 6 (Fall 1972)

2014
Video Data Bank, Ron Athey: An Interview

In this interview, extreme performance artist and 1990s culture warrior Ron Athey (b.1961) discusses the genesis of his provocative performance style and the memories and desires that continue to motivate his practice. Athey describes how his particular approach to performance developed dually from his religious upbringing and exposure to devotional theater, as well as from his later interest in the DIY grandiosity of the Los Angeles punk scene.

1996
Atlanta

A 12-year-old Olympic swimmer and her mother (both played by July) speak to the public about going for the gold.

“As the film progresses through subtle editing-in-reverse, July reveals the world around the televised facade. ... [T]he 23-year-old performer convincingly plays both Dawn Schnavel and her mom, or rather, vanishes into them. What’s noticeable isn’t so much the ease with which July transforms herself into a pre-teen girl and an older woman but the similarities and differences between the daughter and the mother July becomes.”