New Writing on the Video Work of Cecilia Dougherty

 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: The Drama of the Gifted Child (1992), My Failure to Assimilate (1995), The dream and the waking (1997), and Gone (2001).

video still, Gone, by Cecilia Dougherty, 2001

Read the entire article here

(All quotes attributed to Cecilia Dougherty from the author’s interview with Dougherty on July 15th, 2022.)

See and read PDF of this essay here.

Chaos Theory (Remembering Dale Hoyt)

Curated by Steve Seid
program online January 12–Febuary 7, 2023

Includes work by Cecilia Dougherty, Azian Nurudin, Leslie Singer, Marshall Weber, Dale Hoyt, Paula Levine, Emjay Wilson, Andy Heustis, and Ivar Smedstad.

Watch the online program here.

Video still from Your World Dies Screaming by Dale Hoyt

SCREENING: Your World Dies Screaming (1981) by Dale Hoyt; Garbage Head (1981) by Marshall Weber; The Madonna Series, Parts 1–5 (1987) by Leslie Singer; Fuck You, Purdue (1987) by Cecilia Dougherty; Jungle Gym (1981) by Andrew Huestis; Mirror, Mirror (1987) by Paula Levine; High Fidelity (1986) by Ivar Smedstad; Funk Is Its Own Reward (1981) by Marshall Weber; Malaysian Series, Parts 1–6 (1987) by Azian Nurudin; My Pal Foot (excerpt) (1981) by Andrew Huestis; Donkey-Skin (1988) by Emjay Wilson.

RELATED: This online screening is presented as accompaniment to the one-time-only screening Dale is Dead presented February 7, 2023, 7:30PM, at The Lab (full details here) and the publication of An Urgent S.O.S through a Sea of Static: Writings by Dale Hoyt and Natalie Welch published by San Francisco Cinematheque a zine compendium of Dale’s writings (details here).

Remember Dale Hoyt! Support video art and artists!

CHAOS THEORY
by Steve Seid

How would you describe a gathering group of unruly artists? A fortuitous anarchism, or just trouble on the way? And if such a faction existed in one particular moment and in one particular place, the SFAI, providing unruly succor for its constituent parts, what would you call that moment? A discordant convergence? 

Just such a thing occurred at the San Francisco Art Institute in the early-and-mid eighties when a gaggle of singular young artists converged on the recently formed Performance/Video Department and all (heaven and) hell broke loose. A moment, such as it was.

With every upheaval, whether aesthetic or political, there are ringleaders, and among them at the P/V Dept. was a bratty pact—Dale Hoyt, along with his pals Marshall Weber (who would go on to found Artists’ Television Access) and Andrew Huestis—and Cecilia Dougherty, leading an insurgent group of women artists that included Leslie Singer, Azian Nurudin, Didi Dunphy, Jill Garellick and others. The creative energy welling from this convergence was enough to overheat nearby North Beach. If you add to that mix a core faculty of Howard Fried, Paul Kos, Sharon Grace, Doug Hall, Kathy Acker and Tony Labat, you had fissionable artistic material.

program notes by Steve Seid

Read the entire program notes here.

SFAI 150 I A SPIRIT OF DISRUPTION —19 March – 3 July 2021

Video stills from the Writers Series: Laurie (1998), Leslie (1998), Eileen (2000), Kevin & Cedar (2004) and Joe (2018); stills from The Drama of the Gifted Child (1992) and My Failure to Assimilate (1995) – all showing at the San Francisco Art Institute, March – July 2021

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.