Flat is Beautiful: Pixelvision Series at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, NYC
PLEASE SEE MY UPDATE ON LAST NIGHT’S PIXELFEST PANEL DISCUSSION AT LINCOLN CENTER. Below ⬇️
Details, address and complete schedule here:
My 1991 pixelvision feature, Coal Miner’s Granddaughter, and my 1993 collaborative video with Leslie Singer, Joe-Joe, are both screening at Lincoln Center on Wednesday, August 15.
Joe-Joe is screening on Wednesday, August 15, at 7:00PM
Coal Miner’s Granddaughter is screening on Wednesday, August 15, at 8:15PM
“The series also visits Cecilia Dougherty’s video Joe-Joe (starring Dougherty and Leslie Singer) that used Pixelvision alongside Hi8 (8mm color camcorder) to create a queer utopian atmosphere, a multilayered tone-poem-like narrative, and a corporeal geometry of lesbian eroticism (more than the seemingly satiric intention of dyke-doubling gay playwright Joe Orton). Even while Joe-Joe predominantly used the PXL 2000 as its medium, it’s alternating with another medium (Hi8), which captures the buoyant colors and textures of the happy and lewd moments of this lesbian home video in its travelogue, and erotica. In the beautiful bathing scene at the beach house, their naked flesh loosely crosses and brushes against each other while sheltering the oceanic zone in the middle of their soft pleasure. Besides, the PXL 2000’s shifty amateurish recording techniques enabled its dreamy, improvisatory dialogue-like narratives, akin to the collective performances of San Francisco underground poets’ theater. Relevantly, the presence of new narrative poet and writer Kevin Killian’s acting (in both Joe-Joe and Coal Miner’s Granddaughter) further uncategorizes the queer campiness of Dougherty’s videos.”
Panel Discussion (Free!) On Pixelvision
Monday, August 13, 7:00pm*
Join Michael Almereyda, Ben Coonley, and Cecilia Dougherty for a wide-ranging discussion about Pixelvision, moderated by Film Society Programmer at Large Thomas Beard. What drew so many artists and filmmakers to experiment with these temperamental toy cameras? In what contexts did the resulting works first emerge? How differently do we understand such projects today? What possibilities remain for the format?
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, Amphitheater, 144 West 65th Street
Curated by Thomas Beard
Panel Discussion Update
We had our panel discussion last night – me, Michael Almereyda, and Ben Coonley. Thomas Beard had a lot of good questions and thoughts about pixelvision to bring to the discussion.
Michael Almereyda, however, created a Sadie Benning lovefest out of it, which I do not actually wish to be a part of. I believe Sadie’s early pixel work is great work – the work of an embattled adolescent who completely turned her own life around through sheer creative drive. Michael, however, called her early work the “pinnacle” of what’s achievable in the medium and claimed that the others of us on the panel, with all due respects, could never measure up.
I know that looking for stars, assigning individuals to a place in a canonical hierarchy of “film greats” seems to make real a sort of fantasy about filmmaking and about the idea of individual achievement itself. But art has never worked like that. It is an entirely collaborative exchange, the way language is an exchange, the way culture itself is an exchange – an ever-evolving set of moments, all in flux and none towards a pinnacle, none towards a final statement.
I appreciate Sadie’s early work. We are not all trying to achieve work like that, however. None of us are copying or are trying to copy Sadie’s work. Not that we can’t for reasons of it’s being the pinnacle of achievement that somehow says it all – the alpha and the omega – but that we don’t need to or want to make work like that because we have our own contributions to make and have found other uses for the medium. All are valid. A celebration!
So I present an after the fact argument here. I don’t honor the old guard, the old way of setting up heroes and geniuses, of establishing and re-establishing hierarchies of success. These only become points of access and points of denial of access. I raise my glass to all the artists who together move our visual language outward in all its many directions. 📹
WayBay at the Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive
Way Bay is a sweeping exploration of the creative energies that have emerged from the San Francisco Bay Area over the past two centuries. An innovatively organized exhibition of art and film, plus poetry, performance documentation, and archival materials, Way Bay features nearly two hundred works that reveal the depth and diversity of artists’ engagement with the region’s geographic, social, and cultural landscape.
The exhibition takes a nonlinear form and is organized around diverse poetic themes that cut across time periods, media, styles, and artistic cultures, bringing together voices from a wide range of practices and representing diverse communities and sensibilities. Works by artists and filmmakers such as Bruce Baillie, Lutz Bacher, Joan Brown, Bruce Conner, Jay DeFeo, Enrique Chagoya, Richard Diebenkorn, Ernie Gehr, Saburo Hasegawa, Sargent Johnson, Joanne Leonard, Chiura Obata, Helen Clark Oldfield, Joe Overstreet, Alice Anne Parker Stevenson, Rosie Lee Tompkins, Carlos Villa, Cecilia Dougherty and many others are juxtaposed throughout the exhibition. Many additional works will be on view June 13–September 2.
Just launched Dec 30, 2017
In-Between Theories PODCAST
The first in a series of interviews and discussions with artists commissioned to create web-based work for In-Between Theories, an online artspace by Cecilia Dougherty and David Kalal.
This just out!
The Bigness of Things: New Narrative and Visual Culture
edited by Daniel Banjamin and Eric Sneathen
Published in conjunction with Communal Presence: New Narrative Writing Today. Two of my films from the writers series, Eileen and Kevin & Cedar, were screened at the Roxie Theater, San Francisco, in October 2017 as part of the conference. This book presents, background, foreground, and everything in between. It’s a beautiful accompaniment to conference events.
From the Wolfman Press site:
The Bigness of Things surveys the intersection of New Narrative, San Francisco’s queer- and punk-infused writing avant-garde, and visual culture, through photographs and essays on visual art, literary journals, and film.
Essays by Matt Sussman, Brandon Callender, Jamie Townsend, Stephanie Young, Ismail Muhammad, Syd Staiti, Brandon Brown
Art from the Homes of Bruce Boone, Robert Glück, Jocely Saidenberg, Dodie Bellamy and Kevin Killian
Stills from the Films of Marc Huestis, Abigail Child, Cecilia Dougherty, and Leslie Singer
From the editors’ introduction:
The rich tapestry of film, visual art, and writing that emerged in the San Francisco Bay Area in the period before the destruction wrought by the AIDS epidemic is evidence of the variety of this efflorescence: like New York’s slightly earlier downtown scene, or Paris of the 1920s, San Francisco was fertile ground for many arts flourishing together…
The essays in this volume begin to open up this archive, showing a variety of engagements with the small press publications of this period. We turn to a younger generation of scholars and writers and are invigorated by how these texts resonate in their readings.
This just in!
I have a short story called Sue in a Writers Who Love Too Much, edited by Dodie Bellamy and Kevin Killian, from Nightboat Books (2017).
From contributor’s notes, Writers Who Love Too Much 1977-1997:
Dougherty is a filmmaker from Lancaster, Pennsylvania active in the experimental vido scenes in the Bay Area in the late 80s and 90s, and one of the signal artists of the day. Her first feature, ‘Grapefruit,’ told the story of the Beatles and their breakup, acted by amateurs, many of them artists, almost all of them women. ‘Grapefruit’ (the title of which borrowed from Yoko Ono’s bestselling nightstand book of exercises) established Dougherty as an artist to watch out for, and when she began her next project in San Francisco, she attracted a largely gay cast of artists and writers and scenesters to bring to life some Bermanesque and tormented passages of her own family life in her next feature, ‘Coal Miner’s Granddaughter.’ With ‘Granddaughter’ star, Leslie Singer, she wrote and directed another biopic, the genderqueer ‘Joe-Joe,’ that took up the story of playwright Joe Orton as seen in the film ‘Prick Up Your Ears,’ and reversed everything in it. In this Pixelvision video, there were two Joes, who are lovers, both of them female, and Joe’s agent, Peggy Ramsay (Vanessa Redgrave in the movie) is played by Kevin Killian, as a man. After that Singer shot a lesbian post-punk variant of the 60s chestnut ‘Valley of the Dolls,’ calling it ‘Taking Back the Dolls’ (1994). During the past few decades, Dougherty has continued her work in experimental film and video, including a series of “portraits” of artists and poets in her circle, including Leslie Scalapino, Eileen Myles, Kevin Killian, Laurie Weeks and Cedar Sigo, while forging ahead in her prose writing.”
Thanks a million, Dodie and Kevin!
Find Writers Who Love Too Much, from Nightboat Books
Or find it on amazon.com
And from Dennis Cooper’s blog, DC, here’s a nice piece about the book – lots of videos, too, including an excerpt of my 1987 video, Claudia:
My first book, The Irreducible I: Space, Place, Authenticity, and Change was published in 2013. It’s a series of essays about migration, connectivity, and networks. I write against rulership by corporation and suggest methods for observing the social realm in terms of points of contact rather than steps in a hierarchy of social, economic and political power. The methods I suggest are based in observation and release from ideology, and can be taken immediately, beginning on the scale of individual responsibility and possibility.
Visit my collaboration with artist-provocateur David Dasharath Kalal called In-Between Theories.
Our first event from this collaboration was a screening and panel discussion at the MIX Queer Experimental Film Festival in Bushwick on Feb 5, 2017.
Click image to animate it - no theories here! OUR THEORY ABOUT THEORIES