Gender

Community Action Center is a 69-minute sociosexual video by A.K. Burns and A.L. Steiner which incorporates the erotics of a community where the personal is not only political, but sexual. This project was heavily inspired by porn-romance-liberation films, such as works by Fred Halsted, Jack Smith, James Bidgood, Joe Gage and Wakefield Poole, which served as distinct portraits of the urban inhabitants, landscapes and the body politic of a particular time and place.

"Conspiracy Of Lies speaks of the alienation of minorities, of consumer culture, urban isolation and the fine balance between mental order and chaos. The video begins with a voice (my own) recounting the story of the discovery of a series of diary entries and lists written by an anonymous author. When I found the texts, I assumed the author to be a white, gay man, like myself. Through the use of twelve narrators of different race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation, I attempted to destabilize my own subjectivity and challenge my pre-existing assumptions regarding difference.

Contra-Internet: Jubilee 2033 is a re-imagining of scenes from filmmaker Derek Jarman’s 1978 queer punk film Jubilee, starring Susanne Sachsse and Cassils. Contra-Internet: Jubilee 2033 follows author Ayn Rand (Susanne Sachsse) and members of her Collective, including economist Alan Greenspan, on an acid trip in 1955. Guided by an artificial intelligence named Azuma, they are transported to a dystopian future Silicon Valley.

Stephen Varble (1946-1984) staged gender-confounding costume performances on the streets of 1970s Manhattan, and he became infamous for his anti-commercial disruptions of galleries, banks, and boutiques. In 1978, he retreated from this public work to focus on the making of an epic, unfinished piece of video art, Journey to the Sun, until his death in the first days of 1984. Lush, ribald, and unorthodox, the video mixed non-narrative costume performances with a surrealist fable of a messianic martyr, the Warbler.

Covert Action is a stunning melange of rapid-fire retro imagery accomplishing Child’s proclaimed goal to “disarm my movies.” “I wanted to examine the erotic behind the social, and remake those gestures into a dance that would confront their conditioning and, as well, relay the multiple fictions the footage suggests (the ‘facts’ forever obscured in the fragments left us). The result is a narrative developed by its periphery, a story like rumor: impossible to trace, disturbing, explosive.”

“The idea was to address the cultural invisibility of older women through art and through action,” the voice-over explains as this video begins. This short works offers an introduction to the Whisper Minnesota Project, which organized The Crystal Quilt performance, an event that brought together hundreds of women over 60 on a Mother’s Day in Minneapolis. As the video explains, “The Crystal Quilt is a case study in reframing notions of older women’s beauty, power, and relevance. Through it we catch glimpses of life patterns and values lost to our generation.”

In this interview, American artist, independent curator, writer, and experimental filmmaker, Vaginal Davis reflects on her initiation into the punk rock and art scenes of Los Angeles during the 1980s and 90s, her stylistic influences, and her ongoing efforts to theorize queerness and visuality. Caught between the opposing poles of Hollywood classicism and the rawness of punk, Davis defines her unapologetically gender-bending, campy, and at times aggressively critical performances as scenarios, rather than spectacles or entertainment.

Deadline, 1981

An insert square of a man running is superimposed over a magnified mouth that speaks to him — first in nurturing encouragement, then with a no-win Mommie Dearest kind of criticism. Originally presented as an installation on six monitors, Deadline focuses on “the stress man feels in the urban environment,” using a range of digital video effects to stretch, compress, flip and fracture the image.

Deliver, 2008

Like a generation of viewers, I was profoundly affected by Deliverance.  But I have always been troubled by the hegemonic structures of gender proposed by Boorman and Dickey. Hence, my version is played by women: myself, Peggy Ahwesh, Jackie Goss, Su Friedrich, and Meredith Root, all experimental filmmakers who work as academics. While faithful to our respective male characters, we also play ourselves.

Executive produced by Sara Diamond at the Banff Art Centre, co-produced by Michelle Baughn and Suzanne Lacy, directed by Tom Weinberg and Dick Carter, and edited by Holen Kahn.

Distracted Blueberry follows a performance art band through a series of poetic encounters. Masculine tropes are undone to form a relationship between male sexuality and the human death drive. The body, violence and humour are positioned in the larger context of nothingness and somethingness, bridging a tension between externalized anxieties and the terrors of nature. Evocative of inner emotional states, strange landscapes exist as reflections of our shared dreams and nightmares.

Viewer discretion advised 

Blumenthal constructs a loose narrative around the sexual evolution of a woman (played by Yvonne Rainer) through a stunning collage of images appropriated from TV and film. Certain images come to dominate this effusive stream—tall buildings, sex scenes, an Elvis movie, the courtroom, fireworks. Doublecross pits the indeterminate, disruptive power of the erotic against the rigid, normalizing structures of family, law, marriage, popular culture, movies, and music—societal institutions that codify sexual relations.

In this video, Brenda Sexual, Glennda Orgasm, and friends act out a drag queen murder mystery that takes place on their talk show. Later, they attend the Queer Fashion Army Invasion, a sit in of openly queer public fashion performance outside the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. Then, the pair arrives at a video store to discuss queer undertones of Hollywood films, like Grease, Rocky II, and Yentil.

In this episode of The Brenda and Glennda Show, Brenda and Glennda create a satire of 1990's infomercials. The video includes interviews and performances by Vaginal Davis, Bruce LaBruce, and Chris Teen.

An episode of The Brenda and Glennda Show, hosted by Brenda Sexual and Glennda Orgasm.

In this episode of The Brenda and Glennda Show, Brenda and Glennda comically debate changing the name of their show to Drag Queens for Jesus, in order to convert all the secular homosexuals to Christianity. They discuss topics like abortion and censorship from a drag queen perspective, exploring the hypocrisy and inherent bias of Christian ideals. Later, Brenda gets her nipple pierced in homage to Sandy Daley's Robert Having His Nipple Pierced (1971).

Dramatically Repeating Lawrence of Arabia is a re-edit of David Lean’s 217-minute orientalist “classic” Lawrence of Arabia into a 15-minute hallucination of repeating masculinized poses, costumes and dramatic gestures. An algorithmic structure condenses and frame-by-frame remixes the original film into a cycling of divergence, convergence and momentary mirrorings.

Sassy, iconoclastic, and never-married, Los Angeles filmmaker Susan Mogul rides shotgun with ex-lovers, almost lovers, and her Dad, in a road movie turned inside out. Conversations with each driving man - pornographer, tuba player, TV critic, long haul truck driver, and more - are catalysts to reflect upon the past and comment about the present.

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.

A short documentary about life in the Everglades National Park with its few male residents. Living in the midst of a national park, they learn to exist with the wild. As a female moving image artist, Dana Levy takes on the role of an anthropologist, observing the men and how they interact with their surroundings. Apart from Levy, the only women that appear in Eden Without Eve are in erotic photographs taken by a resident named Lucky, who believes that women like having themselves put in romantic, exotic, and dangerous settings to be photographed.

 

Equal Rights for Unborn Drag Queens is a satirical short video in which Brenda and Glennda critique anti-abortion politics, homophobia, and religious fanaticism in the media. Interspersed between clips of right-wing news broadcasts is footage of Brenda having her nipple pierced, in an homage to Sandy Daley's Robert Having His Nipple Pierced (1971).

An episode of The Brenda and Glennda Show hosted by Brenda Sexual and Glennda Orgasm.

In Fagtasia Solstice, Brenda and Glennda attend a Radical Faerie event in New York City to commemorate the Summer Solstice. Through interviews with Faeries and footage of their walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, the group proposes to reclaim the city as a safe space for queer people, and discuss reorienting queer consciousness toward spirituality.

An episode of The Brenda and Glennda Show, hosted by Brenda Sexual and Glennda Orgasm. Featuring the Radical Faeries. Thanks to Julie Clark and Dana Nasrallah.

The Fancy, 2000

The Fancy is a speculative, experimental work that explores the life of Francesca Woodman (1958-1981), evoked by the published catalogues of and about her photographs. Structural in form, the video radically reorganizes information from the catalogues in order to pose questions about biographical form, history and fantasy, female subjectivity, and issues of authorship and intellectual property.

As two heavily made-up women take turns directing each other and submitting to each other's kisses and caresses, it becomes increasingly obvious that the camera is their main point of focus. Read against feminist film theory of the "male gaze", the action becomes a highly charged statement of the sexual politics of viewing and role-playing; and, as such, is a crucial text in the development of early feminist video.

In 1975, the Feminist Studio Workshop (I was a member) at the Woman’s Building in LA, the Women’s Interart Center in New York City, and another feminist organization in Washington DC, attempted to set up a video exchange among feminist art organizations. This was the first videoletter on our end. I don’t know if another one was ever made.

The videoletter is a tour of the Woman’s Building. Pam McDonald, with microphone in hand, another workshop member, and myself, served as guides through the building. It was shot with a black and white video portopack.