The work of Dani Leventhal explores the complicated space that exists between decay and renewal, intimacy and disconnection and the sacred and mundane. The six pieces that comprise Dani Leventhal Videoworks: Volume 1 each examine these ambiguous emotional and psychic spaces through a use of montage that is at once both unstructured and dispassionate and lyrically sentimental.
When she was 16, Benning stopped going to high school for three weeks and stayed inside with her camera, her TV set, and a pile of dirty laundry. This tape mirrors her psyche during this time. With the image breaking up between edits, the rough quality of this early tape captures Benning’s sense of isolation and sadness, her retreat from the world. As such, Living Inside is the confession of a chronic outsider.
Set in the industrial suburbs of Beirut, Majnounak (Crazy of You) explores male sexuality through interviews with three men who are asked to recount very openly the beginning, middle, and end of a sexual relationship they have experienced. The video explores the image they wanted to project of themselves, hence the image of the "male" they identify with. Their stories are alike, starting with seduction and ending after sex.
“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."
Through a catalogue of looks, movements, and gestures, Mayhem presents a social order run amok in a libidinous retracing of film noir conventions. Sexuality flows in an atmosphere of sexual tension, danger, violence, and glamour; antagonism between the sexes is symbolized in the costuming of women in polka dots and men in stripes. Censored in Tokyo for its use of Japanese lesbian erotica, this tape creates an image bank of what signifies the sexual and the seductive in the history of imagemaking, pointing to the way we learn about our bodies, and how to use them from images.
Based on a novel by Rita Mae Brown, Me and Rubyfruit chronicles the enchantment of teenage lesbian love against a backdrop of pornographic images and phone sex ads. Benning portrays the innocence of female romance and the taboo prospect of female marriage.
An interactive CD-ROM inspired by the lives and work of ten famous women: Josephine Baker, Simone de Beauvoir, Catherine the Great, Colette, Marie Curie, Marlene Deitrich, Isadora Duncan, Frida Kahlo, Margaret Mead, and Gertrude Stein. The CD-ROM is an investigation into the intersecting economies of sexuality, authorship, eroticism, and gender that inform the lives of women. Their identities are configured in the negotiated space between self and other, a negotiation that continues in Tamblyn's relationship to them as narrator.
There is no future in reproduction. I have no concern with any species extending itself through time. You think you have given birth to a baby, when really you have given birth to a bus driver, or tax collector. Instead I'm interested in the placenta, the real mother of us all, forgotten discarded. The softest machine, all lipids and blood, that blooms and rots like any vegetal/floral martyr. That umbilical cord did not connect you to your mother. It connected you to that most partial of objects — the placenta — part you, part mom, all martyr and garbage.
In a version of the “teenage diary,” Benning places her feelings of confusion and depression alongside grisly tales from tabloid headlines and brutal events in her neighborhood. The difficulty of finding a positive identity for oneself in a world filled with violence is starkly revealed by Benning’s youthful but already despairing voice.
The woman has perhaps murdered her lover and is living in an unstable world when he returns to her at night, in her dreams and into her arms, as witness to the subversive violence of nature, corporeality and desire.
With Anne Kugler, Bradley Eros and Karen Sullivan. Additional cinematography by Robert Fenz.