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).
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:
Community in den Filmen von Peggy Ahwesh, Cecilia Dougherty und Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings DONNERSTAG, 23. AUGUST 2018, 19 Uhr
Here’s the description of the complete show, if you’re in Bern mañana:
In the late seventies, the filmmakers Lis Rhodes, Jo Davis, Felicity
Sparrow and Annabel Nicolson founded the feminist film and video
distribution network Circles in London. Circles was
created in response to the need to have a platform for films by women.
Previously, its founders had all been members of the London-based
Film-Maker’s Co-op, and Circles was also a response to the lack of representation of women filmmakers in that co-op. The
screening at the Kunsthalle is part of a series of events and
screenings focusing on filmmakers since the 1970s. The films screened
are by Peggy Ahwesh, Cecilia Dougherty as well as by Hannah Quinlan and
Rosie Hastings. They look in different ways at queer communities,
playing with stereotypes, exploring the autonomy of community spaces and
looking for individual forms of expressions within the communities.
With an introduction by the organizers Ann-Kathrin Eickhoff (Author
& Art Historian, Zurich) & Geraldine Tedder (Assistant Curator
Image: Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings, UK Gay Bar Directory, 2016, Still from Film
Mit einer Einleitung von den Organisatorinnen Ann-Kathrin Eickhoff
(Autorin & Kunstwissenschaftlerin, Zürich) & Geraldine Tedder
(Kuratorische Assistenz Kunsthalle Bern)
I’m showing two videos, Eileen, from 2000, and Joe, from 2018 in Circles.
August 10 – 16 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center
The Film Society is showing a week’s worth of pixelvision with work by me (Cecilia Dougherty) as well as Michael Almereyda, Peggy Ahwesh, Joe Gibbons, and Eric Saks, and others. The show is curated by Thomas Beard.
At the Berkeley Art Museum PFA June 13–September 2, 2018
My two videos that were part of the first iteration of this giant exhibition about Bay Area artists – Gay Tape: Butch and Femme and Leslie (about the writer Leslie Scalapino) are also in the second part of the exhibition.
From the Way Bay 2 website: The second iteration of an innovatively organized exhibition of art, film, performance, poetry, and archival materials, Way Bay 2 continues our wide-ranging exploration of the creative energies that have emerged from the San Francisco Bay Area over two centuries. The exhibition features almost two hundred works by Bay Area artists and others whose work engages directly with the region’s geographic and cultural landscape. Dozens of works not seen in the first iteration of the exhibition are on view, including pieces by Rosie Lee Tompkins, Jay DeFeo, Larry Sultan, Frank Moore, Sadie Barnette, Ajit Chauhan, Nicole Phungrasamee Fein, Conrad Ruiz, Michelle Vignes, and Lewis Watts as well as films by Jordan Belson, Lawrence Jordan, Lynne Sachs, and Chick Strand.
Ranging in historical scope from the early nineteenth century to the present, the exhibition explores the enduring themes and powerful artistic voices that have emerged from the Bay Area across times and cultures, highlighting transhistorical affinities among the many artists, filmmakers, authors, and other creative practitioners who have drawn inspiration from the region’s distinctive character. Rather than a conventional historical survey, Way Bay 2 is an open-ended and provocative attempt to reveal hidden currents and connections among works from disparate times, cultures, and communities.
Continuous film screenings in the galleries showcase the Bay Area’s rich history as an incubator for avant-garde and experimental cinema, beginning with a silent film that captures life on the streets of San Francisco just days before the 1906 earthquake destroyed much of the city. The exhibition also includes highlights from BAMPFA’s extensive archive of video and audio recordings of Bay Area artists.
A section of the exhibition is devoted to poetry by Bay Area writers, presented through an original, interactive postcard project. A series of performances and other programs, including readings by local poets and participatory workshops in the museum’s Art Lab, complements the exhibition.
In addition to works from BAMPFA’s collection, including a number of recent acquisitions on display for the first time, Way Bay 2 includes exceptional paintings, prints, photographs, and other works from UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library and Hearst Museum of Anthropology.
In-BetweenTheories is the online artspace of Cecilia Dougherty and David Kalal. We are pleased to welcome Luba Drozd to with a new digital artwork commissioned for the project’s website. Inspired by the longcat meme that flourished in online forums and discussion boards of the early 2000s, LONGCAT repurposes the very body of that meme and infuses it with political content. Drozd makes visible in LONGCAT the current deeply divisive moment in American politics with all of its strategies of avoidance, overkill and misinformation. Riffing on the how digital debris of online eras just recently past continue to echo and be re-purposed, LONGCAT looks at how the virtual becomes tangible and the tangible then shapes our lived realities.
Discussing the genesis of the project she says, “Somebody … would post a longcat and you would have to scroll and scroll and scroll through it just so you could give them an answer. So, it’s basically something that precludes the debate and dialogue as “won.” Just because you’ve posted the longcat that’s it
– the debate is over – you won. Even though it’s completely illogical and non- negotiable. So, I was thinking about these devices … in the beginning of the Trump presidency. [KellyAnne Conway] uses a verbal longcat quite often where she just barrages you with nonsensical information, that you, in the end of the conversation you forget what the question was in the beginning. You just scroll and scroll – she just makes you scroll through, until you can’t hang on to any semblance of an idea of a question that started it.
Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive Exhibition
Current exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) includes my work, Gay Tape: Butch and Femme (1985), which I made as an undergrad at UC Berkeley, and Leslie (1998), a portrait of writer Leslie Scalapino, in a new BAMPFA exhibition, Way Bay, that will open in January 2018. Way Bay–which is co-curated by Lawrence Rinder, Kathy Geritz, and David Wilson, with Jon Shibata and Matthew Coleman–”will be one of the most expansive exhibitions of art from and about the Bay Area in recent memory.” You can read more aboutWay Bay by visiting the BAM/PFA website.