Five works by Chicago women, all of them intertwining personal concerns with social issues. The best of them is Vanalyne Green's Saddle Sores: A Blue Western (1998): Green contracted herpes from a cowboy during a brief affair, and her video treats the subject with humor and subtlety, mixing her own reflections with clips from westerns with deeply flawed heroes, images from a sex-education film, and discussions with friends who knew her lover. She also admits her own failings, going so far as to pose in a dunce cap—this would make a genuinely effective STD-prevention film, but its quirky form also made me smile. In Kate Schaffer's ironically titled video Haptic Interludes ds 1, 2, 3, three former sex workers recall their encounters with male patrons who sat behind glass partitions, each of the women?s voice-overs paired with a different image that's metaphoric and sometimes disturbing—a child going up and down on a seesaw, for example. In Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa's engaging Saless, Far From Home (1998), the video maker perceives her own alienation in images from the films of Iran's Sohab Shahid Saless. Balvinder Dhenjan Mudan's video Square-Shaped Fingernails ponders the identity issues faced by a person of Indian origin who lives first in England and then in Chicago, yet too often the images merely illustrate Mudan?s voice-over. (FC) On the same program, Sarah Jane Lapp and Jenny Perlin's film Happy Are the Happy.
By Fred Camper