Cecilia Dougherty

Ride, a scrollable web-based photo essay on public transit in New York City, on walking around my neighborhood as the pandemic rages. Thoughts on the changing nature of public space. Written while waiting for the votes from the 2020 presidential election to be tallied. November 2020.

NYC subway scene


Drift, a scrollable web-native story about a walk along Staten Island’s North Shore in early March, 2020

The Staten Island Ferry Terminal Level 2


Interactive Fiction
by Cecilia Dougherty

Time Before Memory, a story game set 40,000 years in the past

screen shot of Time Before Memory gameplay

Time Before Memory is an interactive story set in northern Spain and southern France during the Paleolithic Period 29,000 to 40,000 years ago. Visitors play the story by making choices in each of the story’s pages about which branch of the story to explore next. Time Before Memory imagines what life was like for the people who painted the cave walls. Visit the link above to play my new story game, created in Twine. Read more >>

On Saturday, June 15, 2019, Kevin Killian passed away. I shot this video of Kevin and Cedar Sigo in 2004, Kevin is reading one of Cedar’s poems, Theme, and his own poem, Who.

Kevin played the demanding and unforgiving father in my 1991 video, Coal Miner’s Granddaughter, and he played Peggy, the enterprising literary agent of Joe Orton,  in the collaborative bio-pic, Joe-Joe, which I created with Leslie Singer in 1993. Kevin was not an interpretive sort of actor. He created his characters from a sense of the total intention of the communicative enterprise and his contributions were enlightened and enlightening.

In the letter I received with Mirage Period(ical) #5, Kevin said he would like to talk to me on the phone.  I emailed him saying I’d love to talk and when would be good for him. I was definitely completely out of it, didn’t know that he was dying, and had no sense of his invitation for one last conversation as a wish that he knew would not be granted. Not a wish from me, but just from time itself.

Goodbye, Kevin.  I will miss you.

Coal Miner’s Granddaughter

Mirage Period(ical) #5

Mirage Period(ical) 5.5
The 25th Anniversary Issue of Mirage Period(ical)

Kevin Killian and Dodie Bellamy edited two more issues of Mirage Period(ical). Issue #5 December 2018, cover above, finally brings my 1997 conversation with Yvonne Rainer to light. Thank you! You can read the conversation here. Read about Mirage here.

Thanks, Kevin! Thank you, Dodie! Sending love.


New Year New Work 2019

Film-Makers’ Cooperative, NYC
curated by Emily Apter, Ladya Cheryl, and Devon Narine-Singh

This is the 6th year that the Coop is holding a weekend of screenings to showcase work that’s come in over the previous year. My video portrait of Joe Westmoreland, called Joe, was screened on Friday, Jan 25 as part of the new works event.

Many friends were there. Joe Westmoreland, of course, and Charlie Atlas, with Lori E. Seid. And Elise Gardella, Phyllis Baldino, Amanda Trager, and Jim Hubbard all arrived. Sheila McLaughlin was there as well and introduced herself to me at the end. These people are all amazing!

The other work showcased: KG by Cynthia Madansky; Valeria Street by Janie Geiser, Carmel/Washington Heights/Home by Maia Liebeskind; Yem’s Place by Aaron Kelly-Penso; The Way Home by Erica Sheu; Soul Train by Carolina Mandia; Kendo Monogatari by Fabian Suarez; An Empty Threat by Josh Lewis.

What a fantastic screening! Makes remember why experimental filmvideo work is so important. It’s radical, it shows things in a new light, it asks lots of questions and many of those are visually-oriented.



Community in den Filmen von
Peggy Ahwesh, Cecilia Dougherty und Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings
DONNERSTAG, 23. AUGUST 2018, 19 Uhr

installation view, Kunsthalle, Bern
Circles, an installation at Kunsthalle Bern, Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings

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 Kunsthalle Bern)

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.

Flat is Beautiful: Pixelvision Series at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, NYC

August 10-16, 2018


Details, address and complete schedule here:

My 1991 pixelvision feature, Coal Miner’s Granddaughter, and my 1993 collaborative video with Leslie Singer, Joe-Joe, are both screening at Lincoln Center on Wednesday, August 15.

Joe-Joe is screening on Wednesday, August 15, at 7:00PM

Video still from JOE-JOE by Cecilia Dougherty & Leslie Singer
Cecilia Dougherty & Leslie Singer in JOE-JOE (1993)

Coal Miner’s Granddaughter is screening on Wednesday, August 15, at 8:15PM

Video still Coal Miner's Granddaughter
Didi Dunphy as Phyllis Dobson in COAL MINER’S GRANDDAUGHTER (1991) by Cecilia Dougherty

From the desistfilm.com website, by Hyemin Kim:

“The series also visits Cecilia Dougherty’s video Joe-Joe (starring Dougherty and Leslie Singer) that used Pixelvision alongside Hi8 (8mm color camcorder) to create a queer utopian atmosphere, a multilayered tone-poem-like narrative, and a corporeal geometry of lesbian eroticism (more than the seemingly satiric intention of dyke-doubling gay playwright Joe Orton). Even while Joe-Joe predominantly used the PXL 2000 as its medium, it’s alternating with another medium (Hi8), which captures the buoyant colors and textures of the happy and lewd moments of this lesbian home video in its travelogue, and erotica. In the beautiful bathing scene at the beach house, their naked flesh loosely crosses and brushes against each other while sheltering the oceanic zone in the middle of their soft pleasure. Besides, the PXL 2000’s shifty amateurish recording techniques enabled its dreamy, improvisatory dialogue-like narratives, akin to the collective performances of San Francisco underground poets’ theater. Relevantly, the presence of new narrative poet and writer Kevin Killian’s acting (in both Joe-Joe and  Coal Miner’s Granddaughter) further uncategorizes the queer campiness of Dougherty’s videos.”

Panel Discussion (Free!) On Pixelvision
Monday, August 13, 7:00pm
Join Michael Almereyda, Ben Coonley, and Cecilia Dougherty for a wide-ranging discussion about Pixelvision, moderated by Film Society Programmer at Large Thomas Beard. What drew so many artists and filmmakers to experiment with these temperamental toy cameras? In what contexts did the resulting works first emerge? How differently do we understand such projects today? What possibilities remain for the format?

Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, Amphitheater, 144 West 65th Street

Curated by Thomas Beard

My thoughts, after the panel

The panel: Me, Michael Almereyda, and Ben Coonley. Thomas Beard had a lot of good questions and thoughts about pixelvision to bring to the discussion.

Michael Almereyda, however, created a Sadie Benning lovefest and forced the panel to be about her work. Sadie’s early pixel work is great work – the work of an embattled adolescent who completely turned her own life around through sheer creative drive. Michael Almereyda called her early work the “pinnacle” of what’s achievable in the medium of pixelvision and claimed that the others of us on the panel, “with all due respects,” could never measure up.

I appreciate Sadie’s early work. I don’t have the same things to say as a mature artist that Sadie had as a young artist, however. I don’t make work like Sadie’s because I have my own contributions to the dialogue.

Therefore, I present an after-the-fact argument.  I don’t honor the old guard, the old way of setting up art-heroes, of establishing hierarchies of success. These are points of access and also points of denial of access. They have nothing to do with the dialogue itself. I raise my glass to all the artists who together move our visual language outward in all its many directions.

And I will never again be on a panel with Michael Almereyda. 📹

WayBay at the Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive


view of WayBay installation at BAM/PFA museum
Part of the WayBay installation – visitors can take postcards from the packets on the wall and the work is screened in the middle.
postcard from WayBay installation at BAM/PFA
One of the postcards with a video still from my piece GAY TAPE: BUTCH AND FEMME, 1985.

Way Bay
January 17–June 3, 2018

Way Bay 2
June 13–September 2, 2018

Way Bay is a sweeping exploration of the creative energies that have emerged from the San Francisco Bay Area over the past two centuries. An innovatively organized exhibition of art and film, plus poetry, performance documentation, and archival materials, Way Bay features nearly two hundred works that reveal the depth and diversity of artists’ engagement with the region’s geographic, social, and cultural landscape.

The exhibition takes a nonlinear form and is organized around diverse poetic themes that cut across time periods, media, styles, and artistic cultures, bringing together voices from a wide range of practices and representing diverse communities and sensibilities. Works by artists and filmmakers such as Bruce Baillie, Lutz Bacher, Joan Brown, Bruce Conner, Jay DeFeo, Enrique Chagoya, Richard Diebenkorn, Ernie Gehr, Saburo Hasegawa, Sargent Johnson, Joanne Leonard, Chiura Obata, Helen Clark Oldfield, Joe Overstreet, Alice Anne Parker Stevenson, Rosie Lee Tompkins, Carlos Villa, Cecilia Dougherty and many others are juxtaposed throughout the exhibition. Many additional works will be on view June 13–September 2.

image for In-Between Theories podcast
In-Between Theories podcast





In-Between Theories PODCAST

A series of interviews and discussions with artists commissioned to create web-based work for In-Between Theories, an online artspace by Cecilia Dougherty and David Kalal.

Our most recent conversation is with the artist Phyllis Baldino, whose first iteration of a work in progress is up and running on In-Between Theories.

Catch the conversation with Phyllis on Soundcloud

video still from Gone, 2-channel installation by Cecilia Dougherty
Video still from my 2-channel installation GONE (2001) starring the inimitable Laurie Weeks.


You can watch many of my single-channel videos on Vimeo, or go to the Videos page on this site for a preview

The Bigness of Things: New Narrative and Visual Culture
edited by Daniel Banjamin and Eric Sneathen

Published in conjunction with Communal Presence: New Narrative Writing Today. Two of my films from the writers series, Eileen and Kevin & Cedar, were screened at the Roxie Theater, San Francisco, in October 2017 as part of the conference. This book presents, background, foreground, and everything in between. It’s a beautiful accompaniment to conference events.

The Bigness of Things, book from Wolfman Press
The Bigness of Things, new book from E. M. Wolfman, Oakland CA, 2017

From the Wolfman Press site:

The Bigness of Things surveys the intersection of New Narrative, San Francisco’s queer- and punk-infused writing avant-garde, and visual culture, through photographs and essays on visual art, literary journals, and film.

Essays by
Matt Sussman, Brandon Callender, Jamie Townsend, Stephanie Young, Ismail Muhammad, Syd Staiti, Brandon Brown

Art from the Homes of
Bruce Boone, Robert Glück, Jocely Saidenberg, Dodie Bellamy and Kevin Killian

Stills from the Films of
Marc Huestis, Abigail Child, Cecilia Dougherty, and Leslie Singer

From the editors’ introduction:

The rich tapestry of film, visual art, and writing that emerged in the San Francisco Bay Area in the period before the destruction wrought by the AIDS epidemic is evidence of the variety of this efflorescence: like New York’s slightly earlier downtown scene, or Paris of the 1920s, San Francisco was fertile ground for many arts flourishing together…

The essays in this volume begin to open up this archive, showing a variety of engagements with the small press publications of this period. We turn to a younger generation of scholars and writers and are invigorated by how these texts resonate in their readings.

Writers Who Love Too Much, anthology of short stories
Writers Who Love Too Much, edited by Dodie Bellamy & Kevin Killian, Nightboat Books, NY, 2017

I have a short story called Sue in a Writers Who Love Too Much, edited by Dodie Bellamy and Kevin Killian, from Nightboat Books (2017).

From contributor’s notes, Writers Who Love Too Much 1977-1997:

Dougherty is a filmmaker from Lancaster, Pennsylvania active in the experimental vido scenes in the Bay Area in the late 80s and 90s, and one of the signal artists of the day.  Her first feature, ‘Grapefruit,’ told the story of the Beatles and their breakup, acted by amateurs, many of them artists, almost all of them women. ‘Grapefruit’ (the title of which borrowed from Yoko Ono’s bestselling nightstand book of exercises) established Dougherty as an artist to watch out for, and when she began her next project in San Francisco, she attracted a largely gay cast of artists and writers and scenesters to bring to life some Bermanesque and tormented passages of her own family life in her next feature, ‘Coal Miner’s Granddaughter.’ With ‘Granddaughter’ star, Leslie Singer, she wrote and directed another biopic, the genderqueer ‘Joe-Joe,’ that took up the story of playwright Joe Orton as seen in the film ‘Prick Up Your Ears,’ and reversed everything in it. In this Pixelvision video, there were two Joes, who are lovers, both of them female, and Joe’s agent, Peggy Ramsay (Vanessa Redgrave in the movie) is played by Kevin Killian, as a man. After that Singer shot a lesbian post-punk variant of the 60s chestnut ‘Valley of the Dolls,’ calling it ‘Taking Back the Dolls’ (1994). During the past few decades, Dougherty has continued her work in experimental film and video, including a series of “portraits” of artists and poets in her circle, including Leslie Scalapino, Eileen Myles, Kevin Killian, Laurie Weeks and Cedar Sigo, while forging ahead in her prose writing.”

Thanks a million, Dodie and Kevin!  Find Writers Who Love Too Much, from Nightboat Books
Or find it on amazon.com

And from Dennis Cooper’s blog, DC, here’s a nice piece about the book – lots of videos, too, including an excerpt of my 1987 video, Claudia:

Please welcome to the world … Dodie Bellamy & Kevin Killian, editors Writers Who Love Too Much: New Narrative Writing 1977-1997 (Nightboat Books)

My first book, The Irreducible I: Space, Place, Authenticity, and Change

was published in 2013. It’s a series of essays about migration, connectivity, and networks. I write against rulership by corporation and suggest methods for observing the social realm in terms of points of contact rather than steps in a hierarchy of  social, economic and political power. The methods I suggest are based in observation and release from ideology, and can be taken immediately, beginning on the scale of individual responsibility and possibility.

The Irreducible I: Space, Place, Authenticity, and Change by Cecilia Dougherty
The Irreducible I: Space, Place, Authenticity, and Change by Cecilia Dougherty, Atropos Press, 2013

Visit my collaboration with artist David Dasharath Kalal called In-Between Theories.

Our first event from this collaboration was a screening and panel discussion at the MIX Queer Experimental Film Festival in Bushwick on Feb 5, 2017.

Our first artist commission is “longcat” by Luba Drozd, and our second is an online video installation by Phyllis Baldino.
There’s information about the artists here, and our podcast is here.


animated gifs for http://www.inbetweentheories.com
  We’re building our argument against over-theorizing the situation with a dialogue in animated gifs.Thanks to Laurie Weeks for being my muse, now and always.
Click image to animate it - no theories here!



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