Shifting Positions: New Video, Part One | Chicago Reader

Shifting Positions: New Video, Part One

Seven videos by women, most of them familiarly ironic takes on our media-generated world. The best, Suzie Silver's The Look of Love: A Gothic Romance (1998), interweaves new footage with shots from old movies to create a collective lesbian coming-out tale; structured in part as a mock soap opera, it beautifully balances camp with sincerity. Jennifer Reeder's powerful Johnny Take a Dive (1999) presents slowed-down and distorted images of a singing woman to comment on video's hypnotic and intrusive qualities. Shelly Silver's Small Lies, Big Truth contrasts animal imagery with readings of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky's Starr report testimony, offering a witty commentary on our animal natures and the absurdity of the excerpts. For Apeshit (1999) Leah Gilliam rephotographs a trailer for Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973), and in The Apparent Trap (1999) Julie Zando couples The Parent Trap (1961) with new footage shot in imitation of it. Dara Greenwald's Bouncing in the Corner #36DDD (1999), a funny take-off on Bruce Nauman's early video work, replaces Nauman's repetitive movements with a large-breasted woman slamming herself into the corner of a room, the bouncing of her breasts tweaking his ideas of formalist perfection. Yet the longest video on the program, Kathy High's Shifting Positions (1999), forsakes media imagery for autobiography. A semiabstract exploration of her family home is sensitively shot, and a long take in which her elderly father refuses to take a laxative is appropriately painful to watch, but in neither case does High's camera or editing convey her own emotions.


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