With Benglis standing in front of a photograph of herself, which is then affixed to a monitor bearing her image, the notion of "original" is complicated—making the viewer acutely aware of the layers of self-images and layers of "self" that are simultaneously presented. Like Martha Rosler's Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained, Benglis presents the viewer with a "document" of questionable veracity. It is a document attesting not to the "real" Benglis, but to the impossibility of discerning one real identity.
Rosler calls Domination and the Everyday, with its fragmented sounds, images, and crawling text, an artist-mother's This Is Your Life. Throughout this work, we hear—but do not see—a mother and small child at dinner and bedtime while a radio airs an interview with a gallerist about Californian art of the 1960s. The soundtrack moves into overdrive with feedback, a passing train, barking dogs, and a bedtime story. The visuals, all still images, are drawn from television, movies, advertising, and the family album.
This three-DVD collection features 18 titles, 10 years of videography, and over six hours of material by Donigan Cumming.
"Cumming has said that it is his intention to question, "the myth of the innocent, invisible photographic witness." Borrowing from what he calls, "experimental ethnography," Cumming consciously positions himself not only as investigator, but also participant, caretaker and friend. Thus his examinations of human frailty are always tempered by a compassion that stems from his own involvement in the situations he records."
Based on Robert Heinlein’s 1941 story “Universe,” Double Lunar Dogs presents a vision of post-apocalyptic survival aboard a “spacecraft,” travelling aimlessly through the universe, whose passengers have forgotten the purpose of their mission. As a metaphor for the nature and purpose of memory, the two main characters (portrayed by Jonas and Spalding Gray) play games with images of their past; but their efforts to restore their collective memories are futile, and they are reprimanded by the “Authority” for their attempts to recapture their past on a now-destroyed planet Earth.
Like all of Smith’s videotapes, Down in the Rec Room is based on a performance that finds Mike once again all dressed up with nowhere to go. Smith mimes along with a children’s “let’s play make believe” record, and then repeats the action—this time disco dancing along with Donny and Marie on the TV set. Down in the Rec Room continues Smith’s critique of American fantasy culture by depicting the sorry life of the average guy.
A reverse striptease, non-stop comedic monologue about shopping for clothes, while eating corn nuts. Dressing Up was inspired by the artist’s mother’s penchant for bargain hunting. Mogul produced Dressing Up as a student in the feminist art program at the California Institute of the Arts in 1973.
Commissioned for the Ocularis curated Free to Be…You and Me Invitational compilation, which premiered at Brooklyn’s Galapagos Art Space and also screened at Chicago Filmmakers, where Mercedes Landazuri and I performed a banjo and synth rendition of “It’s Alright to Cry” (the song that followed Dudley Pippin on the compilation).
Cherokee-American artist Jimmie Durham has worked in performance since the mid-’60s. In the ‘70s, he immersed himself in activism, working for Native American rights as part of the American Indian Movement. In the ‘80s, his focus returned to producing art in multiple forms—performance, poetry, and mixed-media visual works—that consider Native American identity and critique American domestic colonialism. He has also published numerous critical essays.
This European flavored melodrama depicts a fictional country of refined manners and debased desires that explode into chaos, sending its prodigal son into the pit of 20th Century technology. That technology externalizes his hidden beauty just as he tries to hide the heritage of horror which was the curse of his lineage. That curse now threatens the already damned.
Rosler uses the format of a cooking demonstration (as in Semiotics of the Kitchen) to address cultural transaction--the meeting of Eastern and Western cultures. Reading directly from a West Bend Electric Wok instruction booklet, Rosler wryly comments upon the Oriental mystique conjured by the West Bend manufacturers, a mystique evoked and then "improved" upon through Western technology--i.e. non-stick surfaces and electric power.
Interrupting the nightly news in an act of guerrilla television, Gómez-Peña returns to the persona of a Chicano-Aztec veejay—"The Mexican who talks back, the illegal Mexican performance artist with state of the art technology"—to elaborate the complications of American identity. This post-NAFTA Cyber Aztec pirate commandeers the television signal from his underground "Vato bunker", where virtual reality meets Aztec ritual. Gómez-Peña embodies the doubly radical Chicano performance artist, delivering radical ideas through a radical form of entertainment.