Feminist Video: Reiterating the Difference

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Afterimage, Visual Studies Workshop, Volume 12, Issue 9, Rochester, NY (1985)




Revising Romance: New Feminist VideoDistributed by the American Federation of ArtsInstitute of Contemporary Art Boston, September 1 - December 31, 1984University Gallery of Fine Art, Ohio State University, Columbus April 1985Northwest Film Study Center, Portland, OR July 1985Cornell Cinema, Ithaca, NY September 1985Diference: On Representation and SexualityVideotapes curated by Jane WeinstockNew Museum of Contemporary Art, NYC December 8, 1984-February 10, 1985Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago March 3 - April 7, 1985Institute of Contemporary Art, London July 19-September 1, 1985

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Revising Romance: New Feminist Video

Distributed by the American Federation of Arts
Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, September 1 - December 31, 1984
University Gallery of Fine Art, Ohio State University, Columbus April 1985
Northwest Film Study Center, Portland, OR July 1985
Cornell Cinema, Ithaca, NY September 1985

Diference: On Representation and Sexuality

Videotapes curated by Jane Weinstock
New Museum of Contemporary Art, NYC December 8, 1984-February 10, 1985
Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago March 3 - April 7, 1985
Institute of Contemporary Art, London July 19-September 1, 1985

Those who attempt to establish a cultural mythology that is different than the Western patriarchal view of the world comprise the social "other." Women, minorities, gays, and sometimes even artists, often raise issues that the dominant culture has suppressed in order to survive intact. Women do perceive the world differently than men, yet these differences can be subtle and so pervasive in the texture of our lives that they are difficult to isolate. Nevertheless, there are numerous topics-the domestic cultural domain, media representations of women, and the struggle of women to change well-entrenched, discriminatory social values-that are deeply important to women artists, topics which are threatening and hence ignored by their male counterparts.

To define videotapes by women, or by feminist women, as comprising a specific isolated genre risks a reduction of the work and a denial of its diversity. For an art medium that developed during the "sexually liberated" yet deceptively sexist '60s, video art contains an impressive number of female voices. While the medium also sports its quota of "old boys' clubs," these are balanced by highly visible women curators, administrators, and well established women artists. Two recent shows of video art attempted to define issues of feminist video. While neither succeeded absolutely in its definition, both shows attested to the presence of strong feminist videotapes and revealed the variety of issues being dealt with by women artists. The first, "Revising Romance: New Feminist Video," is a traveling exhibition organized by the American Federation of Arts (AFA). It was curated by Linda Podheiser, assistant professor at Emerson College, and Bob Riley: video curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. The second, "Difference: On Representation and Sexuality," was at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, and included a film and video program curated by film critic Jane Weinstock.

Although their intents were different, both of the shows were predicated on the premise that there is a particular feminist aesthetic, or message. The New Museum exhibition explored the question of sexual difference and emphasized psychoanalytical approaches to discussing art. The AFA show broaches the issue of romance-a subject associated, of course, primarily with women-and asks, in effect, "What are the psychological, political, and aesthetic consequences of popular ideals of eternal passion and transcendent love?" These videotapes analyze stereotypical sexual roles and address the use of romance in popular culture to exploit women's dissatisfaction with themselves and their bodies, but they also tend to parody romance rather than propose any alternative to this brand of consumer culture. Perhaps these videotapes represent the first stage of a revisionist perspective: identify the structure of the opposition's hierarchy and the inherent vocabulary of his language, then attempt to replace it.

"Revising Romance" is an admirable attempt to isolate one topic within a panoply of issues relevant to women working with the narrative form. It is also a risky attempt to construct a specific premise out of a broad group of tapes. The work is divided into four parts: "Domestic Drama," "Revisionist Romanse," "The Double Bind," and "Video Picaresque."

"Domestic Drama" is comprised of three tapes that explore the reality of housework in juxtaposition with the domestic ideals presented in daytime television soap operas and advertisements. The housewife, the quintessential victim of the consumer culture, provides these artists with ample fodder for examining the consequences of confining women to the cultural domain of the home. In Deans Keppel's Soap, Keppel sits in uncomfortably close range before the camera that assumes the place of her television. Sniffling and blowing her nose, she bemoans a failed romance while dialogue from soap operas is intercut with her attempts to perform domestic duties, such as cleaning the bathroom and mending a pair of pants. The paralysis effectively portrayed by Keppel is offset by her humor: comic interplays between her inner voice and the dialogue of the soaps, and her deliberate overdramatization. However, the tape ultimately reads more like a personal catharsis than a commentary on romance.

Ann-Sargent Wooster's House, shot in an equally claustrophobic style, also uses the audio tracks of soaps and game shows as a backdrop for a view of housework. Wooster combines spoken text on the sociology and mythology of housewives and the domestic domain, ranging in tone from the angry to the poetical, with scenes of a pair of hands roughly performing household tasks-feeding a baby doll, washing dishes, cutting vegetables, arranging things-on miniature dolls or in a real-life setting. While the logic of Wooster's shift from make-believe props to actual settings is unclear to me, and her visual metaphors often seem too obvious, her interweaving of feminist commentary and fragmented visuals can be persuasive.

Barbara Broughel goes beyond the rather straightforward style of Keppel and Wooster in Lesson I: Trouble in Paradise to create a disjointed, unusual narrative. This tape is so laden with references to daytime commercials that it creates an eerie kind of alter-world. Everything resembles an advertisement: shirts talk back to a housewife whose husband toes to work in his underwear; stains constantly reappear on the carpet after they have been cleaned; and coffee boils over as the housewife (predictably defeated by her appliances in the end) is beset by salesmen. Broughel calls these crises in the tape the "external disruptions issued by a world of men and commerce" and pushes her style even further with a soundtrack that is either out-of-sync or backwards, and a loose, hand-held camera style. (The tape was originally shot in super-8, giving it a very grainy, fuzzy look.) Unfortunately this style gets increasingly irritating as the tape progresses, undermining the intelligent and original images Broughel constructs. While her assaults on classic narrative style and male economic dominance are admirable, her style is counterproductive.

In Lesson ll: The Frigid Heiress, Broughel takes a stab at the use of eroticism and romance to sell products, defining "commercial advertising as the Romance genre's most recent and most available formal manifestation." Broughel constructs a conniving character who tries to "trap her man" in a kind of Cosmopolitan magazine act of desperation. She adds elements of plot intrigue and juxtaposes shots of the "real" thing-erections and dramatic blood stains-with the fake eroticism of perfume and liquor ads. Once again, the "lesson" of the title is a play on words: the lessons of advertisements and women's self-improvement magazines, as well as the lessons each heroine should have learned at the end. Broughel is dealing innovatively with key issues, and while I am impressed by her ideas, the abrasiveness of her style undermines both works.

With Love From A To B, by Nancy Buchanan and Barbara Smith, is a charming, one-shot sketch that pokes fun at the cliche of unrequited love. Two hands enact this drama with simple props,-a ring, a glass of wine, flowers-in such a way that they are humorous, yet poignant. She does her nails, for example, while he offers her gifts. The tight, introverted style of this tape, like that of Keppel and Wooster, is echoed in Ilene Segalove's Why l Got Into TV And Other Stories, a humorous autobiographical tape in which we see none of the characters' faces, only their torsos. The consistent recurrence of this claustrophic stylistic device, which is apparently uncontrived, is worth noting. Are domesticity and female introspection mutually dependent? Segalove, for instance, has made a series of autobiographical tapes in this fragmented style, which she narrates in a humorous, somewhat self-deprecating tone. She pursues self-analysis via the popular culture and TV addiction of her youth: watching JFK shot on TV; falling in love with the TV repairman; being glued to the tube while suffering from the requisite bout of mononucleosis; and associating the memory of watching her parents kiss with the soundtrack of Dragnet. Segalove's particular narrative style, with its use of static, often stiffly comic visuals, and flat delivery, resembles the tradition of stand-up comedy and carries with it that genre's quality of self-mockery.

The stylistic simplicity of these tapes is in marked contrast with Bruce and Norman Yonemoto's Vault, a sophisticated, well-crafted piece that interweaves an-advertising-image romance with cliched old movie scenes. The Yonemotos, who depart in this work from their usual soap opera format to create a nonlinear, disjunctive romance, are at their best when deciphering rather than imitating the soap opera/ melodrama styles of television and movies. They combine classic juxtapositions such as flashbacks and hackneyed romantic scenes (the young couple embracing in the great outdoors) with Bunuelian non sequiturs. Two exceptionally wooden actors enact a starcrossed romance of a cowboy/ artist and a pole-vaulting cellist. Revamped Freudian symbols (she pole vaults her way out of the romance to a new job, and he is left standing next to-you guessed it-a phallic oil rig), humorous mimicry of advertisements, and campy style make Vault a wonderful play on romance.

Assuming the role of revisionists, women must also contend with the issue of their compliance with the social norms that have allowed the patriarchal mechanism to remain intact for so long. This is a difficult and complex issue, one which Podheiser addresses in this exhibition with a program called "The Double Bind." Here, as she writes in the program notes, "Romance is treated as a sadomasochistic exchange, part of a larger psycho/social dialectic of power within which the protagonists are unwittingly trapped." Perhaps the most interesting example of this mode is the work of Cecelia Condit, a video artist from Ohio who has been noticed recently for her tape Possibly in Michigan. Condit uses a dense, convoluted style td construct macabre, often unnerving narratives. While Possibly in Michigan and Beneath the Skin, both of which were included in this show, might be easily categorized as feminist tapes, closer scrutiny reveals that neither work is so simple or straightforward. In Beneath the Skin, a young woman describes in an incredulous fashion how she discovered that her boyfriend had been arrested for the murder of his previous girlfriend. This convincingly naive narration is heightened by Condit's elusive visuals that intercut morbid images of corpses with images of a young woman lying on a bed. This technique underscores her identification with the dead girlfriend, and heightens her excitement with her proximity to danger, while the singsong soundtrack that characterizes Condit's work chants, "Tell us about Barbie and Ken and how their friendship never ends . . . ."

Possibly in Michigan takes these thorny issues even further with two women who "have two things in common--violence and perfume." The taps begins in a shopping mall, where the two women try out perfumes and are pursued by a man who alternately bears the head of a wolf, rabbit, or frog. When he pursues one of them home, they band together and kill him, eventually making him their evening meal. Condit's imagery is vivid and unusual. The two women dance with a series of men with animal heads in a nightmarish party scene. References to childhood fairy tales abound, and superimpositions of cadavers allude to the relationship between sex and death and the roles of victim and perpetrator. Her heroines are hardly role models; they are mixtures of vapidness and eroticism (they eat their prey while naked). Condit never really lets us see either sex as either the victim or the oppressor. Her men are violent, but the women, who "have a habit of making the violence seem like the man's idea," are, too. The do-unto-them-as-they-did-unto-us undercurrent of the tape is only mockingly angry. As the soundtrack chant of "I bite at the hand that feeds me" combines with images of falling buildings and fleeing figures, one senses both chaos and confusion, a funny, yet unfunny, realization that this male/female interaction is doomed. There is a subtle and creepy sense of despair in the tape.

The other work categorized by Podheiser as a double bind is Mother, a stylized Film noir detective story by John Knoop and Sharon Hennessey. The tape is a very smooth, wellacted drama, beautifully framed in black and white, about a woman who kills her unfaithful husband one night in a rage and buries him in the garden. As the story unfolds, she becomes romantically involved with a chauvinist police detective who catches on pretty fast that she has something to hide. Ultimately, he uses his knowledge to blackmail her into subservience; she has replaced one cruel tyrant for another. Podheiser describes Mother as distinct from the traditions of Film noir because of its emphasis on the woman's perspective, but the tape is finally much more concerned with stylistic issues than it is with women's issues, per se.

The curators conclude the exhibition with Eleanor Antin's The Adventures of a Nurse, a performance/paper-doll theater piece that ascribes to the long, drawn-out pace of extended avant-garde performance rather than the television-influenced time frame of the other tapes. Antin animates her narrative, wearing a nurse's uniform, in a small enclosed space and uses paper dolls for characters. Antin's protagonist, nurse Eleanor, is the epitome of the tragic victim, who through the course of the drama is seduced and used by various male characters and, in the end, seems to have learned nothing. As a performance, Antin's piece has some interesting quirks: she mimics each character's voice and moves her dolls like a young girl fantasizing at play, which arouses our voyeuristic tendencies. One can imagine that this piece might actually work if seen live, but as a 64-minute videotape, it is excruciating to view.

As I have tried to suggest, "Revising Romance" is ambitious in its premise. It is also worth noting this is the AFA's first serious attempt to showcase feminist videotapes. While the tape selection seems unbalanced (why have two relatively similar videotapes by both Broughel and Condit and such a deliberately long piece like Antin's in a relatively short-four hour-show?), it is an intelligent approach to issues of women's narratives. As Podheiser writes in the program notes, "(The woman artist's) voice or persona literally appears in several works, and while she may share much with the heroines and spectators of Romance, she is preparing a different road: having taken control of her active fantasy life, her work of imagination may help redefine Romance for us all."

This redefinition is a necessary part of the process of deciphering the exclusive cultural mythology, and quite often this process centers on the most glaring of cultural symptoms-the media. As Norman Yonemoto says, "Our work says that media does effect the way people see their own personal lives." Just as many of the videotapes in "Revising Romance" concentrate on the portrayal of women in advertising, the works in "Difference: On Representation and Sexuality" seem preoccupied with the ability of the media to construct gender identification. In fact, in both shows there is an almost paranoid overemphasis of the power of media to shape traditional sexual identities. Does the media create sexual roles or does it simply reflect preexisting patterns?

This issue is compounded in the New Museum show with its preoccupation with the writings of Jacques Lacan. In her forward to the Difference catalogue, Kate Linker writes:
**Underlying Lacan's theory is the conviction that the human subject is never a discrete self, that it cannot be known outside of the terms of society and, specifically, of the cultural formations of patriarchy. Implicit in his speculations is awareness of how gender informs, infuses, and complicates a range of social "texts," permeating supposedly neutral fields. (1)

The issue of the difference between the way the sexes view and represent the world is a rich topic. Had it been followed through in this exhibition, one could have expected to see work that explored the sometimes vast and occasionally subtle discrepancies in how the dominant and revisionist cultures differ and collide. Instead, the entire exhibition seems like an extended footnote to the ideas of Lacan. Film and video curator, Weinstock, like exhibition curator, Linker, concentrates on the hackneyed metaphor of the male camera as aggressor and the female as passive subject:
**Sight unseen, he fixes his gaze, casts his eye, eyes the scene. The so-called passive spectator of the cinema, he is the site of an active construction; he is not fixed, cast or eyed... as for her, she gets shot. She becomes an image, a projected surface, his projection. If she does act, it is only to cock the gun that points in her direction. For however, fascinating, she must be deactivated .... The three basic looks of cinema-the look of the spectator at the film, the look of the characters at each other-carry the spectator through a series of masculine and feminine points of view. (2)

The most obvious example of this male-camera/female subject analysis in the videotape selection is L'Image du Cinema (The Image of the Cinema) by Raymond Bellour and Philippe Venault. Bellour and Venault are fascinated by Hollywood movies, and in this videotape they perform a semiological and feminist deconstruction of '40s B-movies. Using soundtrack excerpts and images culled from the lurid and tantalizing posters featured in Film Daily, they construct a vocabulary-"the film, the story, the screen, the spectator, the look, the light beam"-to be deconstructed: "The beam of light from the monster's eye is the same as the spectator's eye." Their analysis of Hollywood's portrayal of couples, true love (all love stories result in marriage or death as the "symbolic resolution" created by society), the family, and the archetypal evil woman is both intelligent and amusing. It is especially so when they choose to be specific: the notion of the city as a microcosm for society as evidenced by film titles such as Steel Town, Naked City, Sleeping City, etc.; and the image construction of a female ideal by men, "bodies dreamed by men become the dreams of women." However, Image du Cinema's representation of the struggle of the male and female image in'40s American cinema is difficult to reconcile with the current debate on issues of sexual identity. As emblems of the past, they are easy targets for such analysis, and after 79 minutes, one longs for them to update their time frame from the '40s to the '80s.

Dara Birnbaum's Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman is a facile analysis of TV's rendition of a strong female. Birnbaum manipulates footage of Wonder Woman by taking short clips and repeating them several times until their artifice is exaggerated. She follows this with a Donna Summers's song where the text of the song-"Ohhs" and "Ahhs" included-is written on the screen. A humorous juxtaposition to the TV version, Summers's wonder woman sings "I've got to shake my wonder maker" in breathy, seductive tones, and the real source of wonder-and power-is obvious. Judith Barry's Casual Shopper is in the vein of the "Revising Romance" narratives. She follows a pair of prospective lovers through a shopping mall as they pose like advertisements and find comfort in the climate-controlled environment. As Barry correlates modern romance with the banality of the mall, Max Almy takes an even bigger swipe at suburban values in Modern Times. In this tape, as still images of a house and its contents are viewed, a sarcastic voice qualifies them as "nice house," progressing into "nice image" and "nice concept." The tape is divided into four allegorical scenes of modern Romance. In following scenes, we see "Modem Marriage," a female voice describing her man in a plethora of adjectives from good to bad, "Modern Romance," infidelity, "Modern Communication," self-centered and one-sided, and finally "Modern Sexuality," in which a woman's voice says, "I know exactly what 1 want," as we viewed parts of a male body. Almy succeeds in reversing expected sexual roles, yet she risks replacing the male power figure with a bitchy female stereotype, represented in many of her tapes by a woman's mouth (inserted by digital manipulation) that commands the action. The complexity of male/female power struggles that she constructs by refusing to present simplistic female images is not unlike that in Condit's work, whose Possibly in Michigan was also included in this show. Ultimately, this refusal to establish positive-female/negative-male stereotypes is central to the prospect of redefining the cultural mythology.

Other works included in this exhibition span a broad range of topics, defined by Weinstock as "about women who ...." Theresa Chas beautiful, evocative Paysage, Paysage is a three-channel, black and white piece that alludes to emotional and romantic issues. In hushed, almost seductive tones, a voice whispers words while images of bed covers, letters bound in twine, and other elusive scenes are glimpsed on the screens. In contrast, Martha Roster's Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained is a powerful indictment of crimes against women, invasion of privacy, "scrutiny on a mass level," and the gross injustices of scientific attempts to establish sexual and racial inferiority through measurement. Roster is the central character who is disrobed and measured in all possible degrading ways by two men in white medical coats. This tape is so strong conceptually and visually that it stands apart from the other works. Its anger is only partially approached by Stuart Marshall's A Journal of the Year of the Plague, a tape that correlates the public reaction to AIDS (the "gay plague" of newspaper headlines) with book burning in Berlin in 1933 and cryptic references to the Holocaust.

While the tapes may be individually successful, seen together they hardly combine to further an understanding of the difference in representation and sexuality. Does Marshall's often obscure treatment of a gay issue-which makes him part of that social "other"-provide insight into the issues of sexual difference? Why do we know that Chas sensual and ethereal piece could only have been made by a woman? If artists consistently revert to stereotypical media-generated sexual roles for content, when will an analysis of the difference of the less obvious sexual identities of our culture begin? After establishing the relationship of camera/subject as one of fetishism and female subjugation, where do we go from here?

In her essay, Weinstock reiterates the sexualization of film theory, concluding:
**One of the first tasks for video theory, then, might be to better articulate video's terms of address. Does its particular system of circulation posit a spectator who might not fit the description proposed by film theory? Does video's inevitable link to television, advertising, and rock video negate the realism debates that continue to rock film theory? Does its omnipresence as a form of surveillance lead to paranoid structures unknown in the Hollywood cinema? . ...(3)

While I do not doubt the critical usefulness of defining male and female points of view in cinema, exclusive emphasis on this approach is counter productive. That Weinstock wonders why these film theories are not a part of the current discourse on video has little to do with the inherent differences between the two media. It results, instead, from the fact that video art has not yet been absorbed into the academic circles where such debates thrive. Critical discourse about video art has little to gain by looking to Lacanian film theory for such hackneyed advice. I think the lack of cohesiveness in Weinstock's curating derives from her approaching this work from a cinema studies perspective. This suspicion is confirmed by the fact that her discussion of the tapes was written as a brief "postscript" to her essay on the films (which were also screened separately from the videotapes at the Public Theater), even though these tapes were shown in the main gallery of the New Museum. Hence, the separation between film and video is enforced both in the screening process and in Weinstock's essay.

The key issue of the influence of gender in social texts lies, however, not in media representations of sexual roles or in defining the visual structure of certain art forms in sexual terms, but in exploring the formation of a sexual identity. The one work presented in this show that begins to unravel this issue is Jean-Luc Godard's France/Tour/Detour/Deux/Enfants, a series of 12 half-hour tapes which were made for French television. Godard has been dealing with issues of origin, power, language, and sexuality for a long time, and one feels the strength of many years of thought in these tapes, which continue issues of sexual identity and ideology from his film Two or Three Things I Know About Her. Each program begins with an image which seems to sum up wonderfully and dispose with the male-cameralfemale-subject angle: a young boy and girl alternate between operating a large television camera and holding the sound microphone. Just one glimpse of this blond, pig-tailed girl peering into the camera's eyepiece assures us that we are moving onto new issues.

In France/Tour/Detour/Deux/Enfants Godard uses a mix of scripted and improvised scenes, many of which include spontaneous interviews with either of the two children. (4) Often humorous, always complex, this interweaving of scenes combines parody of television styles with deconstruction of language and moments of reversed expectations: a young couple stands close, caressing each other while whispering sweet phrases that gradually begin to sound like a first-grade reading lesson, "you are exciting ... your mouth is soft . . . the city is big . . . I am poor..."; a group of athletic women jog around a running track while the soundtrack plays a pop song with the refrain "ton style est ton cul," or, "your style is your ass"; a naked pregnant woman works in an office while a voice explains how our society isolates women for reproduction over production. The spontaneous scenes with the two children are revealing: the camera isolates the boy in his classroom, presenting us with a catalogue of expressions as he competes with his classmates, and when in an interview Godard begins to ask him increasingly more difficult and esoteric questions about the multiple meanings of certain words, you can see his mind churning with the effort. While the boy is awkwardly gregarious, the girl is calm, self-assured, and more enigmatic before the camera.

Among other things, it is important to reiterate that any redefinition of sexual identities in our culture will result not only from a rise of feminist voices, but also from an understanding by both the sexes of the destructiveness of traditional roles. That both of these exhibitions include feminist works by men (like Godard) is promising. Beyond the analysis of what is wrong with cultural representation of sexuality is a stage in which a reconstruction of new identities must take place. In the art world, this also means the reinforcement of a pluralistic approach and an effort to move away from an artificial construction of genres and subgenres as a method of facilitating theoretical discussions of the work.

In his essay "The Discourse of Others: Feminism and Postmodernism," Craig Owens puts forth the intriguing premise that feminist thought runs parallel to postmodern theory. While he contends that most postmodern theory has tended "either to neglect or to repress" the "insistent feminist voice," Owens states "that women's insistence on difference and incommensurability may not only be compatible with, but also an insistance of postmodern thought." (5) I am not interested here in contributing to the current debate of postmodern theory or in dealing with the problem of male critics appropriating feminist theory as such. Postmodernism, as a term, makes me (and, I suspect, many others) suspicious because of its lack of specificity, its predication on a relationship (that of contemporary work to modern art) and on the process of looking back (everything refers to the legacy of modernism).

But Owens's insistence on the pluralism of postmodern thought and its primary definition of the "crisis of cultural authority, specifically of the authority vested in Western European culture and its institutions" has importance when one considers the immense and difficult task of redefining entrenched cultural definitions of the sexes. Art made by women inherently questions those authorities. In his lucid essay in the exhibition catalogue, critic and filmmaker Peter Wollen writes:
**. . sexual difference cannot be defined without challenging the terms of the Symbolic Order within which sexual difference is determined. While that order persists, in its patriarchal forms, any redefinition can only be partial and unstable, any definition complicitous and fetishistic to a certain degree. Hence a claim that sets out to investigate sexual difference is caught in a dilemma. It must overthrow an Order, a system of representations, that still provides its own conditions of possibility. It must be a cinema founded on ambivalence and irony, the montage of discourses, mobility of identity, and openess of inquiry. In a sense, it is fated to be a hysterical cinema, always speaking from a place it knows it is not and occupying a place from which it cannot yet speak. (6)

Like Owens, he credits feminism as being a force in "breaking the hold of modernism." The fall of modernism and recent upheavals of art theory have taken place simultaneously with the emergence of video as an art form. And it has evolved with less of the excess baggage of well-embedded, male-dominated theories and entrenched male hierarchies. This is part of the reason why many psychoanalytical theories, such as the male-camera-gaze, don't translate well into the medium, and even the (exclusively electronic) issue of surveillance, so much in the vogue these days, seems more neutral than sexually oriented. Video by its very nature questions the symbolic order of television. In the art world, it has always been a pact of the "other," a form that like cinema before it, by its very existence, asks us to restructure entrenched ideas about what art is.

1. Kate Linker, Difference: On Representation and Sexuality (New York: the New Museum of Contemporary Art, 1984), p. 5.
2. Jane Weinstock, "Sexual Difference and the Moving Image," Difference, p. 41.
3. Ibid., p. 45.
4. I was able to see only three of the 12 episodes.
5. Craig Owens, "The Discourse of Others: Feminism and Postmodernism," The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture (Port Townsend, Washington: Bay Press, 1983), p. 57.
6. Peter Wollen, "Counter-Cinema and Sexual Difference," Difference, p. 37.