Media Arts Program

Friday, August 21, 2009 at 8:00 p.m.

$7 general, $5 students/seniors, $4 members

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Speculate: Queer (Re)Visions

Taking as its inspiration Cecelia Dougherty's classic video Grapefruit (which screened at Hallwalls' 1990 Ways In Being Gay festival), Hallwalls presents  an evening of shorts that realign popular culture, and re-evaluate political histories. Featuring  Grapefruit (1989, 40min), Tara Mateik's  Putting The Balls Away (2008, 23min),  and Frederic Moffet's Jean Genet In Chicago (2006, 26min),   TRT: 1:30min

Tara Mateik's Putting the Balls Away is a reenactment of the historic September 21, 1973, tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, created for broadcast on the 35th anniversary of the original event. The Battle of the Sexes was the most-watched live sporting event at that time, and pitted chauvinist against feminist, when women tennis players demanded equal pay to that of their male counterparts. Both players are performed by Mateik, whose work wages strategic operations to overthrow institutions of compulsory gender. After each game the competitors "switch sides". Excerpts from the sports commentators, Howard Cosell and Rosie Casals, exemplify the spirit of the match.

There's the velocity that Billie Jean can put on the ball and walking back she's walking more like a male than a female.
RC: I just wonder whether Bobby would look better in a tennis dress... better than shorts maybe.
HC: Billie Jean of course won the first set, to the absolute delight of all the women in the arena. They actually stood and gave her an ovation and I suspect many in their living rooms did the same thing.

With an all-female cast, featuring Suzie Bright as John Lennon, Cecelia Dougherty's Grapefruit plays with the romanticized history of the iconic Fab Four, gently mocking John and Yoko's banal squabbles and obsessive rituals of self-display. Based obliquely on Yoko Ono's book, the tape works on many levels to reposition this mythic tale of Beatles boy's life by casting '80s women in mod drag—effectively mapping the lesbian sub-culture onto heterosexual mass culture. Discounting the importance of reproducing facts and historical accuracy, Dougherty gives an incisive reading of the creation of pop culture icons: it doesn't matter who plays John Lennon because ultimately John Lennon is not a person anymore. As a star, he is a projection of our society's collective needs and desires. 

Frederic Moffet's Jean Genet In Chicago is a queer rewriting of the events surrounding the 1968 National Democratic Convention in Chicago from the point of view of French writer Jean Genet. Along the way Genet will meet, amongst others, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, the Yippies, the Black Panther Party and the Chicago police force... Ultimately, the video is about the difficulty of aligning political and sexual desires.


Cecilia Dougherty's videotapes explore the nature of women's relationships to family life, society and the everyday, as well as feminist analysis of lesbian sexuality, psychologies, and relationships inside a culture that is, at best, indifferent and at worst, hostile. She often uses methodologies borrowed from documentary and biography to map contemporary realities over pop-historical icons creating work that deals with nostalgia, popular culture, and an extension of the idea of what is contemporary and what is behind us as a society.

Tara Mateik is an Artist, curator, and activist living in New York City. Entering both political and biological cells as an ersatz scientist, his work critically explores the gendered signifiers and codes of these fantastic mythologies through performance, video, and intervention. As the founder of the Society for Biological Insurgents, or SBI (pronounced /spi/), an embryonic cell organization that seeks to overthrow institutions of compulsory gender, Mateik released mutinous biological agents in his work. Mateik's radical passion is partly inspired by his celebrated work with Paper Tiger Television, a well-established non-profit video collective. As Coordinating Director at PTTV Mateik advocated for alternative media production and distribution initiatives that worked to demystify and democratize media. His video works include Toilet Training: Law and Order and in the Bathroom (with the Sylvia Rivera Law Projects), Operation Invert and P.Y.T. Mateik's writing and work has been published in FELIX: A Journal of Media Arts and Culture, LTTR, a new queer feminist art journal and GRIP: A BOOK OF MANIFESTOS. He has curated video programs for the Mix Experimental Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, the London Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, and the Center for Gay and Lesbian Studies at CUNY. Mateik is an MFA candidate at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Intergrated Electronic Arts program.

Frédéric Moffet was born in Montreal. He graduated from Concordia University with a BFA in filmmaking. He received a full scholarship in 1996 to complete a MFA in video at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he presently teaches in the Film, Video and New Media Department. Recent projects include: Jean Genet in Chicago (2006), Level01 (2003), Hard Fat (2002), More is More (2002), 24xCaprices (2001), An Objective Measure of Arousal (2001), and Five O'clock Shadow (1998). His videos and films have been shown in festivals and galleries internationally, including at VideoEx (Zurich), Para/Site and Microwave (Hong Kong), VideoFormes (Clermont-Ferrand, France), Art in General (New York), Hot Docs (Toronto), Frameline (San Francisco), The New Festival (New York) and Festival Nouveau Cinema Nouveau Media (Montréal). Recent Awards include: Best Direction at the 2003 Moving Pictures Festival (Toronto), Best Short Award at the 2003 Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Audience Choice Award at the 2002 New York Erotic Film Festival and Third Prize Award at the 2001 VideoEx (Zurich).