Whole Grain: Ree’s Contemporaries–Feminist Video Art of the 70s

Black and white image of a woman with short hair looking in a mirror with a tv next to her mirroring her actions. She is drawing on the contours of her face, comparing one side of her face with the other.
Film still from Joan Jonas’ Left Side Right Side, 1972

Join us on Thursday, October 3 at 6:00 pm, for a screening of early feminist video art, in conjunction with our exhibition Ree Morton: The Plant That Heals May Also Poison. Although Morton never produced any film or video works herself, during her most productive years there was a surge in feminist video artworks. With the introduction of video technology into the consumer market, set in motion by Sony’s release of the first VCR recorder and player in 1971, recording to videotape quickly became a viable and accessible medium for artistic expression, significantly less expensive and burdensome than shooting on traditional celluloid film. This screening includes video works from nine different artists between the years of 1972 and 1975.

While some works directly engage with discursive elements of feminist art, such as the ‘male gaze’ or female sexuality, other works more subtly construct a feminist sensibility, much like Morton’s work. Videos in this program engage with themes of dressing the body, memory through documentation, family life, and performative identity,  all negotiated through the unique medium of video. Although many artists took different subjects in these videos, a strong aesthetic thread – one characterized by self-directed scenes, direct address to the camera, and a mix of playfulness and seriousness – runs through these disparate works.

The screening concludes with an interview with Ree Morton from 1974, conducted by Lyn Blumenthal and Kate Horsfield. Not only does this interview point to some of Morton’s own conceptions of making art in the context of this moment, but it also hints at the influence of Blumenthal and Horsfield, the founders and operators of Video Data Bank (the source of much of the work included in this program). Underscan by Nancy Holt is copyright of the Holt/Smithson Foundation, and distributed by the Video Data Bank in partnership with the Holt/Smithson Foundation.

  • Premiere (Martha Wilson, 1972, US, 1.5 min., video)
  • Birthday Suit with scars and defects (Lisa Steele, 1974, US, 13 min., video)
  • Underscan (Nancy Holt, 1974, US, 9 min., video)
  • Art Sucks (Martha Wilson, 1972, US, 1 min., video)
  • Left Side Right Side (Joan Jonas, 1972, US, 9 min., video)
  • Razor Necklace (Cynthia Maughan, 1975, US, 1 min., video)
  • Female Sensibility (Lynda Benglis, 1973, US, 13 min., video)
  • The Way Underpants Really Are (Cynthia Maughan, 1975, US, 1 min., video)
  • Semiotics of the Kitchen (Martha Rosler, 1975, US, 6.5 min., video)
  • Interview with Ree Morton (Lyn Blumenthal and Kate Horsfield, 1974, US, 26 min., video)

This event is free and open to the public.

About Whole Grain

The Tang Teaching Museum’s series Whole Grain explores classic and contemporary work in experimental film and video.

Whole Grain is programmed by Assistant Director for Engagement Tom Yoshikami. All events are free and open to the public.

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