Certain Presentations

Cecilia Dougherty

The image above is a video still of the painter Amy Sillman in her role as Pat from my 2001 double screen projection, Gone. We took the best part of a year to shoot this film. This scene was shot at the Chelsea Hotel in the days when Stanley Bard was the manager. He let me shoot without asking for a location fee. He was kind of grumpy, but also kind and full of the dryest wit I’ve come across in a long time. Stanley Bard died in February 2017. RIP.

Reading for Writers Who Love Too Much book launch, Artists Space, New York, 2017

 Hall Pass, New Museum, New York, 2015

Hall Pass
Panel discussion with Cecilia Dougherty, Cheryl Dunye and Tara Mateik

When: Saturday, Nov 14, 2015, 3PM
Where: The New Museum, New York

“Exploring the legacies of queer, feminist video production, ‘Hall Pass’ brings together artists Cecilia Dougherty, Cheryl Dunye, and Tara Mateik to discuss their work and influences. The panel will consider past and present strategies for examining sexual politics and questions of identity through video, as well as feminist modes of production and networks of support over the past twenty years.

“The panel is organized on the occasion of Wynne Greenwood: ‘Kelly, an exhibition and a six-month residency in which Greenwood will premiere the complete, recently re-performed and newly mastered archive of Tracy + the Plastics’ performances. The exhibition brings this archive into dialogue with Greenwood’s more recent work. In conjunction with ‘Kelly,’ materials from the historic New Museum exhibitions “Homo Video: Where We Are Now” (1986–87) and ‘Bad Girls’ (1994) will be on view in the Museum’s Resource Center. Dunye organized the video programming for ‘Bad Girls,’ which also featured Dougherty’s influential video Grapefruit in the program.”

Powerpoints promised!

This is the text from my 2015 New Museum (NY) panel presentation. The panel was titled “Hall Pass” and was in conjunction with a concurrent New Museum show titled “Kelly” by the artist Wynne Greenwood. Wynne is a former student of mine and did, in fact, pick all of the panelists herself. The panel consisted of me, Tara Mateik, and Cheryl Dunye.

PDF of my presentation: NewMuseum-talk-HallPass
Here’s a link to the videos of mine cited in my talk: Videos

The text:

Q. How has video’s history intersected with questions of identity and sexuality. Reference to Rosalind Krauss’s article, The Aesthetics of Narcissism (1976)

A. Cecilia D: Video fosters live, in-process experimentation

[Screen scenes from Sick, The Drama of the Gifted Child, Joe-Joe, My Failure to Assimilate, You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)]

What Rosalind Krauss (The Aesthetics of Narcissism, October Magazine, 1976) may have seen as narcissism may be better-discussed as discovery

If the self is not a permanent fixture, a finished product of either genetic inheritance or cultural tradition, or of self-reflection and self-improvement schemes, then what is narcissism, in the art-analytical way she used it?

The body is the subject

In video, fortunately, the body gets to do things that it can’t do in real life

            fractal imagery

            chroma key

            split screen


            and, of course, vertical roll

No need to discuss what digital editing brings to the mix

Krauss sees video as inherently requiring psychological strategies

She’s acknowledging the process, which has often been forgotten as value is placed more on product by audiences and makers alike, nowhere more evident that in Film and Video departments in colleges and universities.

One ends up wondering how young people can enter a medium for which no history is provided, only the alternate history of video as film.

The stress is on post-production: you can fix that in post.      

The computer is the new home of video production and the main venue for video screening

It’s nice to see the monitors again (Wynne’s show), to put the image back in the box

[Screen scenes from Gay Tape: Butch and Femme]

Video was really the light-bulb for me. I had been painting. It was good practice and I like it. But when I first used video, I knew I could forego excessive attempts at symbolism, eliminate any traces of sentimentalism in my work, avoid completely the necessity for making definitive statements or coming to any conclusion at all, and engage in time-travel.

I would describe video as a very problematic medium. Can we create sustainable practices?

Environmental waste, but also the idea of green computing.

Video and electronic media production uses non-renewable resources, mostly minerals and metals. Some of the elements are toxic. Some of the factories have oppressive working conditions.

How do I, being an artist, help either workers or the environment?

The division between science, technology, production, use and sustainability is the same as the division between those with access to ‘progress’ and those employed at the factories assembling the devices, whose work belies the idea of progress.

This leads directly to personal economics. I have to use what is available to me. Lately, it’s the computer desktop and software.

The artist’s relationship to work, career, income, and public funding is based on the interleaving of public funder and curator-driven trends in art production. The artist has to be smarter and be willing to create work that satisfies other needs, maybe not primarily the needs or even the processes of the artist herself.

This show [Wynne Greenwood]  is one exception, and there are others in terms of exhibitions and screenings,  perhaps because it’s within the area of education. Other exceptions are the Mix Festival, the small galleries opening up in Brooklyn and elsewhere, artist-run spaces, Participant, Microscope Gallery etc. But there’s no money in most of these enterprises.

Feminist video and queer video – are these terms? Or are they realities. I’m pretty sure they’re realities. If one has a problem with either term, then the terms are not serving their work. All of the issues of queerness are first and foremost feminist issues. There can be no post-feminism in a world where girls are shot in the head for going to school, where female is still without original subjectivity and is always a product of domination, or where women are routinely corralled into working in the sex industry against their will. So, what does this have to do with video? Let’s just say feminist video is the same as feminist everything.

[Show stills, clips from Laurie, Leslie, Eileen, Joe, Kevin & Cedar] – note: I did not show these clips

Bad Girls – I never liked the title. I was always a good girl. Being queer was good. It meant not lying to myself or anyone. Being oppositional was not an action of mine, it was an action of the state first, the corporate creation of a blissful heterosexual family norm and woman as sexual object, and the outlawing and debasement of me and those like me within the social realm – on levels that were often very close to the body – gay bashing!

My work was always an examination of the space of the lesbian body within the structures established by the state, by corporate capitalism, and of the social realm.

[Screen clips from Claudia, Grapefruit, CMG, Gone, The Third Space, The Scenography, The Fourth Space, Occupy Wall St Redux, and The Apartment]

Regarding Wynne’s show, I think Wynne is looking closely at the spaces inhabited by a person who is aware of the conundrum of the personal being political, of a young lesbian woman being in charge of her life and being able to create her own space. It’s what you have to do – it’s not what you get to do, it’s what you have to do.