I’m creating a web-based interactive story called Shanidar, a sequel to my 2019 piece, TimeBefore Memory (https://paleolithic.ceciliadougherty.com).Shanidar takes place in Paleolithic times and tells a story of a small band of 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, which is the location of the famous Neanderthal “flower burial.”
I started Shanidar, while we were, more or less, in lockdown. And while I had traveled to sites in Spain and France to research Time Before Memory, I had to do a most of my research for Shanidar from my desktop. Unable to travel to Europe to gather source materials and take photographs of paleolithic sites, I decided to draw the background imagery for the story and imagine my fictional characters more clearly as people and less as (pre)historical elements.
Both stories have involved research into human species, climate change, patterns of human migration over thousands of years, and most wonderfully, into Paleolithic art, ritual, and behavior. There’s queer and trans influence in the storyline and characters as well, acknowledging a long history of multiplicities of gender.
Shanidar is speculative fiction, and is not science. It questions and critiques scientific findings and observations, nonetheless. I expect to finish this piece in mid-2022. I’m using Twine game software to create the story and am adding not only original imagery, but also an original soundtrack.
Walter & McBean Galleries, Diego Rivera Gallery, San Francisco Art Institute. Margaret Tedesco & Leila Weefur, Curators
The San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2021 with A Spirit of Disruption, an exhibition that reflects on the school’s profound and sustained influence on contemporary art and highlights the contributions of generations of diverse artists and individuals often overlooked in the historical narrative of SFAI. A Spirit of Disruption includes the work of more than thirty alumni and faculty from the 1960s to the present; a dynamic media installation drawn from SFAI’s vast archive; and a section dedicated to artist model Florence “Flo” Wysinger Allen, the subject of countless paintings, sculptures, and drawings made at the school from 1933-1997.
A Spirit of Disruption also includes a dynamic media installation drawn from SFAI’s Anne Bremer Library archive featuring artists Rigo 89, Karen Finley, Cliff Hengst, Doug Hall, Debora Iyall, Jun Jalbuena, Jennifer Locke, Paula Levine, Cecilia Dougherty; and George Kuchar in collaboration with Tim Sullivan, among many others.
The ferry, the bus, the subway. Walk, too. Walk around the neighborhood in the early morning hours, especially, when few people are up and about and you can occasionally take off your mask and enjoy the air, the colors of dawn, and the fragrance of the fall.
Announcing the launch of my new web-based essay, RIDE, about what it feels like being in public and being on public transit in New York. A complete environment for daydreaming, people-watching, and finding your place, your role, in the city.
Interweaving archaeological evidence with speculative fiction, Cecilia Dougherty’s web-based drama Time Before Memory (2019) interrogates the origins of our species and prompts reflection on its present state. Set during the Paleolithic Age (29,900-40,000 years ago) the multimedia play unfolds in three acts, each containing an indefinite number of scenes. The multimedia work was created with Twine — an open-source, engaging story generation platform — and combines elements of video games, literature, photography, and video. The tension between individual autonomy versus collective action, alongside interrelated issues of land, migration, and competition, is a major theme throughout Time Before Memory. Given such motifs, Dougherty’s inventive work of electronic literature resonates in our immediate moment, one marked by toxic individualism, scarcity of resources, and widespread fear stoked by nativist rhetoric.
Read the entire review HERE – it’s a really good read. Tony Huffman understands this piece.
Today, fundamental changes are taking place on our planet, and our entire lifestyle is being re-examined. We’re seeing other forms of life existing in what feels like a parallel universe – which we used not pay such close attention to – now invade our lives. Such inalienable rights as freedom of movement, meeting friends, socializing, and saying our last farewells have suddenly become impossible. The pandemic caught us unaware. Like in Noah’s Ark, we are locked up with our families and pets, or on our own as we move towards a new technogenic life. Virtual reality has suddenly crept into our lives and is asserting its rights. Social networks are becoming the only form of contact with the outside world, with friends and family. If personal QR-codes contain all the information about a person, including biological data, then where will the boundary of state interference in our private lives be? Perhaps, this crucible of changes will change society and our everyday reality drastically, help us to shed the unnecessary and superficial things in life, and to gain a better understanding of ourselves and the people around us. –theme description from the Cyfest/Cyland site
Francesca Fini (Italy), /S)CONFINAMENTO — first chapter, 2020
Gay Tape: Butch and Femme (1985) screened recently at the Valade Family Gallery in Detroit. Many thanks to curators Scott Northrup and Jonathan Rajewsky!
Sadie Benning Cecilia Dougherty
Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay
Desire as Politics presents a selection of LGBTQ perspectives in contemporary film and video from 1985 to 2017. The exhibition is not meant to summarize this arbitrary span of time, but rather to look at works exploring a range of identities, social constraints and prejudices unique to LGBTQ positions, including representation, fantasy, fear, love and the blurring of binaries, positions that we feel are vital in our current climate.
Scott Northrup & Jonathan Rajewski
From the exhibition catalogue:
Dougherty’s first video, made while she was studying at Berkely:
“I made it just around the time when the term ‘gay’ was for everyone and then ‘lesbian and gay’ become the new term, until we progressed to ‘LGBTQ’.
“Gay Tape is a documentary about some of the regulars at Ollie’s Bar, a lesbian dive on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland. The 1970s sartorial statement of flannel shirts, 501s, and Frye boots was passé and at odds with the new eighties aesthetic—tons of makeup, big hair, and complicated lingerie. Along with the new aesthetic came the reemergence of good old fashioned butch-femme role-playing. While the femmes pranced around like Stevie Nicks, their butch girlfriends reverted to an earlier role model, acting out fifties and sixties-style tough girl with brilliant aplomb. I asked some of the women from Ollie’s to talk on camera about role-playing.
“The camera instantly gave me too much control over content, so I tried to balance it by providing a platform for the women to speak on the butch-femme issue without overtly directing them. I relinquished authorship in favor of revelation and avoided coming to conclusions; the speakers were experts as well as subjects and could say whatever occurred to them. They spoke extemporaneously about their lovers, the details of their sexual identities, and their fantasies. My girlfriend at the time was one of the subjects. As her story unfolded I realized from my privileged position behind the lens that the lover she was describing in detail was not me. So much for the power of the gaze!
At a recent screening, the audience was interested in the difference between butch and transgendered, maybe not understanding that there were trans people in the community in 1985. I think there’s a distinction and as always, the people making the distinction are self-identified.”