The opening was on Saturday, Oct 21, and it was GOOD.
Curated by Terri c. Smith, a Bard Curitorial Program grad and someone who has done her research. I went with my friend Pat from New Haven and I had no expectations for this show – it could be great or it could be not so great. And it was very good (i.e., great) and completely engaging. Work by people I know, people I don’t know but admire, and people I once knew: Peggy Ahwesh, Max Almy, Ericka Beckman, Gretchen Bender, Dara Birnbaum, Cecelia Condit, Cecilia Dougherty, Ulysses Jenkins, Nam June Paik, Ann Magnuson, Piplotti Rist, and Michael Smith. Newcomers Am Schmidt and Willie Stewart as well.
Pat and I stayed ’til closing time. She took my picture – you can get a glimpse of how each artist’s work is installed – clean and neat, plenty of room to watch, and Paik’s work was set up with a comfy padded bench for viewing.
The show is up through the year, closing on Jan. 14, with a curator walk-through and reception on Dec. 9 from 3-5 PM.
What is Interactive Fiction? It’s a way to tell a story by having the reader, or visitor to the story site, “play” the story by making choices about what part of the story to go to next – the reader can navigate forwards and backwards throughout the story. There is no directly linear way to experience Interactive Fiction, and much of it has not only text – the story – but also graphics, animation, and sound. It provides a rich, inviting and immersive pathway into narratives.
Shanidar, Safe Return is an interactive story that places a young Neanderthal woman named Haizea in the center of a community’s struggle for survival, as the Cro-Magnins (Homo sapiens) migrate to their once-peaceful territories. Haizea and her band of mixed – Neanderthal and Cro-Magnin – travelers must walk the distance from danger in what is now southern France to safety in their old refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan, a place called Shanidar. They meet a group of Denisovans on the way, and receive guidance from the old H. heidelbergensis shaman, Bihotz.
Tubular Times is a group exhibition that features significant video art made from 1981-1993. The show also includes thematically related satellite installations with newer works by contemporary artists Am Schmidt and Willie Stewart. The historic component will be on view in the main gallery and black box room and will feature approximately twelve artists, including Peggy Ahwesh, Max Almy, Ericka Beckman, Gretchen Bender, Dara Birnbaum, Cecelia Condit, Cecilia Dougherty, Ulysses Jenkins, Nam June Paik, Ann Magnuson, Pipilotti Rist, and Michael Smith.
Terri C. Smith is showing my little-known 1986 video, SICK, a visual monologue about being disabled and closeted about my disability. But it’s not all doom and gloom – it’s an experimental piece created at the San Francisco Art Insitute, in Studio 9, which was equipped with a gigantic Grass Valley Switcher and Downstream Keyer. All our effects and colors were created in the live mix. Very analog, and lots ‘n lots of fun!
The exhibition is inspired by Vestron video, which was a production company and VHS distributor located in Stamford, Connecticut in the eighties and early nineties. Sharing qualities with Vestron’s catalog of B-horror, music video, and campy humor, many of the works in Tubular Times layer comedy, horror, and music to address 1980s political themes in the U.S., including the AIDS crisis, a growing wealth gap, and Reagan-era backlash to the civil liberties of the 1960s and 1970s. The show’s title references: cathode-ray tube (CRT) televisions used in the 1980s; that decade’s saying “totally tubular”; and phonetically suggests the word turbulent.
1981 was the first year of MTV and the first year of the AIDS epidemic, setting much of the tone for a decade. It’s not surprising, then, that the video art of the 1980s exhibited a unique mix of urgency, desperation, camp, and techno celebration. In the video art of that era, gender identity, a sense of life-and-death urgency, theatricality, satire, and experimental digital techniques coalesced. During this time, we see irreverent divergences from the conceptual video art of the 1970s which, while often addressing sociopolitical themes, was rarely directly influenced by television and movies. With cable television growing in the mid-1970s and being in sixty-percent of American houses by 1992 and with VHS bringing movies into the home, the topographies of entertainment shifted dramatically during this time. Video editing also became more sophisticated, allowing artists to appropriate imagery from pop culture.
Vestron’s catalog was a mix of comedy, satirical spoofs, and thriller/horror genres. The company also was involved in music videos and released Making of Michael Jackson’sThriller. Vestron is best known for the film Dirty Dancing, but other movies they released include: quirky comedies like Earth Girls are Easy and The Princess Bride; horror movies such as Slaughter High and Horror Hill; and comedy-horror films such as Sundown: the Vampire Retreat and Lair of the White Worm. For some of the artists in Tubular Times, horror—a genre inextricably linked to VHS—becomes an allegory for the othering of the LGBTQ+ community as well as the systemic failure and loss of life during the AIDS crisis, which was further exacerbated by Reagan-era policies that centered cisgender, heteronormative, white, capitalist ideals. The resulting ethos of these videos is to varying degrees harrowing and hysterically funny.
It is fitting to locate Totally Tubular—an exhibition inspired by this piece of Connecticut film history—at Real Art Ways, a contemporary art space that has a long, rich history of supporting independent cinema through its film programming.
Swedish news reporter Karin Eriksson stopped me (Cecilia Dougherty), Phyllis Baldino and Laura Parnes on the street in Lower Manhattan on the night of Trump’s first indictment on rape charges. She was asking New Yorkers their opinions on the indictment. As it turns out, all of us were elated and we expressed that to Karin, who turned it into a story for the Swedish paper Dagens Nyheter, on the first page of the Världen (“World” news) section.
Karin’s article featured the photo, above, of me, Phyllis and Laura – three video artists having a night on the town – as we respond with joy to the question of what we might think of Trumps’ legal problems and having finally been brought to court. Here’s a link to the article:
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.
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.