Cecilia Dougherty on a field trip on February 9, 2023, to the Hall of Human Origins at the American Museum of Natural History with her students enrolled in HMS-340S-01, Who OwnsPrehistory?
This is one my courses at Pratt Institute. A course I designed. My baby. In the course, we non-scientists (we, artists, that is) look at the discourses of science surrounding the never-ending question to figure out what is “human,” who qualifies as “human,” and how many species of bona fide “humans” are there? The discourses are fun and interesting and always spark my imagination like crazy. And going to the American Museum of Natural History with my students was like turning on all the lights. They saw things I hadn’t seen, even after many trips. They pointed out objects, displays, topics that I had always missed or glossed over. Paleolithic music, for example – music, hearing, the development of the ear. Very important topic.
The work of artist Cecilia Dougherty explores the nature of queer women’s relationships to one another, society, and the everyday, as well as a feminist analysis of lesbian sexuality, psychologies, and intimacies inside a culture that is, at best, indifferent and at worst, hostile. She often uses methodologies borrowed from documentary and biography to map contemporary realities over pop-historical icons, creating art that deals with nostalgia, popular culture, and the state of society. Looking to Dougherty’s lasting legacy, we are pleased to present the lecture “Make Believe, It’s Just like the Truth Clings to It”: In Conversation with the Work of Cecilia Dougherty given by Amanda Mendelsohn, Graduate Distribution Assistant at the Video Data Bank, and School of the Art Institute of Chicago M.A. candidate in Modern and Contemporary Art History.
Exploring the earlier video works of Dougherty, this talk will address issues of identity, queerness, and experimentation. The four titles discussed, The Drama of the Gifted Child, My Failure to Assimilate, The dream and the waking, and Gone, range from 1992 to 2001, illuminating a specific time period of Dougherty’s work. Based on their VDBTV essay in part drawn from their interview with Dougherty, Mendelsohn explores their relationship to Dougherty’s experimental practice and catalog, as well as how the pieces fit into the broader picture of analysis. The lecture will be followed by an interview between Mendelsohn and Dougherty, then followed by an audience Q&A session.
“Make Believe, It’s Just like the Truth Clings to It”:
In Conversation with the Work of Cecilia DoughertyMonday, February 27, 2023, 7:00pm (EST)
The work of Cecilia Dougherty explores the nature of queer women’s relationships to one another, society, and the everyday as well as providing a feminist analysis of lesbian sexuality, psychologies, and intimacies inside a culture that is, at best, indifferent and at worst, hostile. She often uses methodologies borrowed from documentary and biography to map contemporary realities over pop-historical icons, creating art that deals with nostalgia, popular culture, and the social realm.
Looking to Dougherty’s lasting legacy, we are pleased to present the lecture “Make Believe, It’s Just Like the Truth Clings to It: In Conversation with the Work of Cecilia Dougherty.” The event is a conversation between Cecilia Doughery and Amanda Mendelsohn of the Video Data Bank at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Make Believe, It’s Just Like the Truth Clings to It: In Conversation with the Work of Cecilia Dougherty
by Amanda Mendelsohn
Cecilia Dougherty got her start as a video artist in an unconventional way, fitting for her experimental body of work. As an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley, Dougherty was a painter. However, in her last semester of college, she took a video production class, changing the course of her education and career permanently. Dougherty fell in love with video art, and was inspired to singularly pursue the medium. Using the one video she made for that class,
Dougherty applied to the Performance and Video MFA program at the San Francisco Institute of Art in the late ‘80s, and the rest was history. Prior to this, she had very little knowledge about the history of video art, let alone the process of making it. Additionally, during this time period Dougherty was grappling with her identity as a lesbian in a heteronormative society, working to “find an adequate expression of it as a place to exist inside the social realm sexually, politically, and personally.”
She was simultaneously breaking ground in new territory as an artist, and that territory for lesbian expression was in no way near established for video art. Combining this aspect of her life with her practice, Dougherty created the following works included in this program: TheDrama of the Gifted Child (1992), My Failure to Assimilate (1995), The dream and the waking (1997), and Gone (2001).
Curated by Steve Seid program online January 12–Febuary 7, 2023
Includes work by Cecilia Dougherty, Azian Nurudin, Leslie Singer, Marshall Weber, Dale Hoyt, Paula Levine, Emjay Wilson, Andy Heustis, and Ivar Smedstad.
SCREENING: Your World Dies Screaming (1981) by Dale Hoyt; Garbage Head (1981) by Marshall Weber; The Madonna Series, Parts 1–5 (1987) by Leslie Singer; Fuck You, Purdue (1987) by Cecilia Dougherty; Jungle Gym (1981) by Andrew Huestis; Mirror, Mirror (1987) by Paula Levine; High Fidelity (1986) by Ivar Smedstad; Funk Is Its Own Reward (1981) by Marshall Weber; Malaysian Series, Parts 1–6 (1987) by Azian Nurudin; My Pal Foot (excerpt) (1981) by Andrew Huestis; Donkey-Skin (1988) by Emjay Wilson.
Remember Dale Hoyt! Support video art and artists!
CHAOS THEORY by Steve Seid
How would you describe a gathering group of unruly artists? A fortuitous anarchism, or just trouble on the way? And if such a faction existed in one particular moment and in one particular place, the SFAI, providing unruly succor for its constituent parts, what would you call that moment? A discordant convergence?
Just such a thing occurred at the San Francisco Art Institute in the early-and-mid eighties when a gaggle of singular young artists converged on the recently formed Performance/Video Department and all (heaven and) hell broke loose. A moment, such as it was.
With every upheaval, whether aesthetic or political, there are ringleaders, and among them at the P/V Dept. was a bratty pact—Dale Hoyt, along with his pals Marshall Weber (who would go on to found Artists’ Television Access) and Andrew Huestis—and Cecilia Dougherty, leading an insurgent group of women artists that included Leslie Singer, Azian Nurudin, Didi Dunphy, Jill Garellick and others. The creative energy welling from this convergence was enough to overheat nearby North Beach. If you add to that mix a core faculty of Howard Fried, Paul Kos, Sharon Grace, Doug Hall, Kathy Acker and Tony Labat, you had fissionable artistic material.
SCREENING: Your World Dies Screaming (1981); Dancing Death Monsters (1981); Ringo Zappruder (1981/82); Over My Dead Body (1983); The Complete Anne Frank (1985); Braille (1986); Transgenic Hairshirt (2001); Don’t Be Cruel (2004); Because (2006). All works by Dale Hoyt.
Dale is Dead by Steve Seid Dale Hoyt (1961–2022) Dale is Dead. Dale Hoyt who at age 19 was already showing his irascible works to perplexed audiences. Dale who five years in made a remarkable, sui generis video, The Complete Anne Frank, that still holds its own. Dale who, it was rumored, slept on the roof of the SFAI when his money got thin. Dale whose uncompromising ways never found welcome from grants panels of his supposed peers. Dale who left briefly to run the video program at New York’s The Kitchen, but faithfully returned. Dale who in later years haunted the Tenderloin like a sage and wily guy. Dale who left behind a chill absence where his vital life had once warmly sounded.
But let me tell you about Dale Hoyt’s body of videowork that streamed forth for a decade, then vanished for a time, only to return in his waning years. Dale came-of-rage in a fruitful moment, the late-70s/early-80s. From the scrap heap of punk culture, he snatched an aesthetic that was low-rent, appropriative and bratty. Video art had moved on from the performative documentation of the ‘70s to cut-and-paste storytelling from the likes of Tony Labat, the Yonemotos, Ilene Segalove, Tony Oursler and others. Dale deployed shreds of narrative, shrewd iconoclasm, and cut-and-paste tech, then coerced his artist-pals into enacting their own angst. The never-faltering early works, like Your World Dies Screaming (1981), Dancing Death Monsters (1981) and Ringo Zappruder (1981/82), drilled into the frontal lobe of juvenile yearning, marshaling pop icons, cascading pills, viscous props and grotesque wallowing as the stuff of post-pubescent misery. Atop this heap, Dale added a miasma of sound bites, pop song lifts, and plaintive dialogue to amass an unnerving swamp of sonorities.
Online screening of works by those of us who were in the same groove in San Francisco i the 1980s.
How would you describe a gathering group of unruly artists? A fortuitous anarchism, or just trouble on the way? This online streaming accompaniment to Dale is Dead—also curated by Steve Seid—presents performance/video work from the turbulent Bay Area ‘80s, a selective sampler pack of works informing and informed Hoyt’s iconoclastic work. Artists include: Marshall Weber, Leslie Singer, Cecilia Dougherty, Andrew Huestis, Paula Levine, Ivar Smedstad, Azian Nurudin, Emjay Wilson and more from Hoyt himself. Details and complete program here.
And for some flavor, here’s Dale’s unofficial commencement address to the final San Francisco Art Institute (RIP!) graduating class:
The show was in November, 2021, before all hell broke loose. And the catalogue just came out, June 2022.
Cecilia Dougherty (USA) DRIFT web-based art, 2020
“Drift” tells the story of a walk the artist took in March, 2020, along the North Shore of Staten Island, NY, just as it was beginning to dawn on people that leisurely strolls might be a bad idea at the present moment. The project was created using basic HTML/CSS coding, and the images were taken with an iPhone. The artist takes a final stroll through favorite parts of her neighborhood before lockdown.
Descriptions of the surroundings and a chronicle of events of the pandemic are mixed with critical thoughts on virus capitalism, such as the experience of resisting the virus in the USA and the inaction of the Trump administration.
I like the way my piece, Drift, is displayed – it’s a good size – not gigantic and not tiny, and it’s at a height and an angle that looks pretty accessible to me. Thank you, CYFEST!
As you listen, the particles of sound (phonos) decide to be heard. Listening affects what is sounding. The relationship is symbiotic.
Curator’s Statement, Jamie Chan:
I wanted to see a collection of artworks together that could speak about daily life and art but outside of categories or commentary, sort of like a stream of water, a walk, a place to rest the mind. Thereness, but not at all reductive. Works that communicate intimately to the viewer through stories with a soft focus. Doesn’t represent a dialog, but represents the relationship between thought process and idea formation. A circle is a thought pattern. Not fiction or nonfiction, neither formal nor informal. Works that are grounded in specific places, groups of people, and rest in fluid qualities of time. A sense of resolution that lingers.
Works not exactly being in service of “process” – not ephemera or document – but concretely living and direct. The form of the works themselves is materially lightweight, diffuse and comprises accumulated gestures, yet is emphatically manual and sourced from the materiality of life and the senses. The works also all resemble piles – larger trajectories and practices exceeding the sense of time that they exist in. These artists capture our attention in both the front and back of our minds, skillfully folding time into a narrative movement that smolders, and the implication of that movement circles us back to elemental and early experiences of the earth and of place, individuals in groups connecting back to the source. JC
Cecilia Dougherty’s small drawings (pencil and conté crayon on paper, various sizes, 2021-22) have been created as the background drawings for episodes from the story she has developed over several visits and much research into the Paleolithic cave art in Spain and France. The story follows Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons on a migration through France, Italy, the Balkans and southward to what is now Iraqi Kurdistan, to a site called Shanidar, the location of the well-documented Neanderthal flower burial. Cecilia Dougherty is a visual artist living in New York.
In the work of Lucía Hinojosa Gaxiola, two decaying leaves reveal their venation patterns where hidden traces suggest a map of movement. She brings landscape to the foreground–the words root, rot and rotation are repeated in her ritual typewritings, and her drawings are made upon uneven ground. Lucía is an interdisciplinary artist and writer from Mexico City, and the editor of diSONARE, an experimental editorial project. Her time-based practice explores the fluidity of language through investigative poetics, resulting in a corpus of visual, sonic, and text-based works. Her expanded poetry practice involves an engagement with the environment and collecting natural and found objects.
Anthony Leslie’s 2014-22 sound diaries are the products of an ongoing daily practice that combines field recording, concentrated listening and first-person narrative. They represent an extensive and growing archive of his sound memories, mostly from his time spent living, working and caregiving in and around Los Angeles. They contain public sounds, domestic sounds, sounds from the world of nature and of music, the voices of friends, family, people on the street, poets, protestors, and others.