Donigan Cumming’s improvisational style traverses the boundaries of tragedy and comedy, drama and documentation. In After Brenda, Cumming redefines the genre of popular romance. His abject hero is Pierre, a fifty-something male who has lost everything in the name of love. He is homeless and adrift, an unwanted guest with nothing to offer but a tale. After Brenda searches the hearts and rooms of his audience, seizing the evidence of sex, love, and survival.
Agoraphobic is a portrayal of a specific case of New-Age impotence. The agoraphobic's pathology manifests itself as a need to drink his victim's blood in order to move from place to place. Set in an office interior, Agoraphobic becomes a play on the patient / therapist relationship, suggesting an imbalance in the transfer of baggage.
The “a-ha experience” is the moment when a child first recognizes its own image in a mirror; it is critical to the development of intelligence and identity. It is also the moment when the “self” is surrendered to the control of an external influence. The child accepts the power of the mother to confer or withhold love; it is the mother’s power to fulfill desire that shapes a child’s sense of identity. Similarly, a camera controls love by directing or not directing its attention to the desiring subject.
"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)
Animal Attraction is a documentary about the relationship between people and animals that questions the way we project our hopes and desires onto our pets, and ascribe human qualities and attributes to their gestures. The video was inspired by the plight of the filmmaker who was frustrated by the obnoxious behavior of her cat, Ernie. As a last resort, she gave in to a friend's suggestion to contact an animal communicator. This is her journey with interspecies telepathic communicator, Dawn Hayman, from Spring Farm CARES, an animal sanctuary in upstate New York.
This work attempts to further the critical dialogue surrounding the strategies of repetition and re-enactment. The Apparent Trap is a work that reminds the audience of the psychoanalytic implications of these strategies. It examines Walt Disney’s The Parent Trap (1961), a story in which twins decide to switch identities. The conceit of identity, the violence that erupts when one is confronted with one’s mirror image, and the “trap” of identification with the Other are all themes explored by re-enacting selected video art that speaks to these issues.
The Bus Stops Here is an experimental narrative about two sisters, Judith and Anna, plunged into depression by their struggle to gain control over their lives. Narrated by Judith’s counselor, The Bus Stops Here traps these women in a narrative in which their unmediated voices are rarely heard; instead, the viewer learns about them only through the interceding power structures of narrative, family, and psychiatric establishment.
“In Martina’s Playhouse everything is up for grabs. The little girl of the title oscillates from narrator to reader to performer and from the role of baby to that of mother. While the roles she adopts may be learned, they are not set, and she moves easily between them. Similarly, in filmmaker Peggy Ahwesh’s playhouse of encounters with friends, objects aren’t merely objects but shift between layers of meaning. Men are conspicuously absent, a ‘lack’ reversing the Lacanian/Freudian constructions of women as Ahwesh plays with other possibilities."
Shot in Pixelvision, Joe Gibbon's Multiple Barbie features the artist as a smooth-talking psychoanlayst imploring the silent doll to explore her multiple personalities in order to purge their power from her psyche.
My Failure to Assimilate muses on the profound sense of melancholy that sets in after the end of a relationship. The tape uses poetry, songs, collage, interviews, and narrative elements to construct a complex picture of the resulting loss of direction and loss of identity. The tape is organized into three sections: Part 1: 'Schizophrenia'; Part II: 'Alienation'; and Part III: 'True Self'. Central to the question of identity is the interplay between imaginary and symbolic identification.