This series showcases videos of performances dealing with issues of identity by three seminal artists of the 1970s and '80s:
Marina Abramovic (Serbian, b. 1946)
with Charles Atlas (American, b. 1958)
Single-channel color video with sound, 6 min.
Marina Abramovic collaborated with videomaker Charles Atlas on this striking work of autobiographical performance. Abramovic delivers a monologue that traces a concise personal chronology. This brief narrative history, which references her past in the former Yugoslavia, her performance work and her collaboration with and separation from Ulay, is intercut with images of Abramovic engaged in symbolic gestures and ritual acts—scrubbing her feet and staring like Medusa as snakes writhe on her head. Closing her litany with the phrase “time past, time present,” Abramovic invokes the personal and the mythological in a poignant affirmation of self.
Produced by IMATCO/ATANOR
for Television Espanola S.A. El Arte del Video
Eleanor Antin (American, b. 1935)
"From the Archives of Modern Art," 1987
Single-channel black-and-white video
with sound, 18 min.
The archivist attempts to put together the “lost years” of Eleanor Antinova, the once celebrated black ballerina of Diaghlev’s Ballet Russe, when she returned to her native America to eke out a meager living in vaudeville and early movies. Her career in the United States is
documented through narrative and dance films—recently discovered—which she made back in the Depression years, when times were bad and even ballerinas stooped low. Includes several comedy shorts, spicy farces, even, alas, a semi-blue movie exploiting her ballerina role, along with vaudeville dance numbers and artistic interpretations. A documentary fiction.
Hannah Wilke (American, 1940–1993)
"Hannah Wilke Through the Large Glass," 1976
16 mm silent film on video, color, 10 min.
“Hannah Wilke Through the Large Glass” documents one of Wilke’s most effective and well-known performances, in which she performs a deadpan striptease behind Duchamp’s “The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even” (also known as “The Large Glass”) at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Dressed in a fedora and a white suit, and evoking the style of 1970s fashion icons such as Helmut Newton and Yves Saint-Laurent, Wilke strikes a series of poses and then strips. She is seen through the glass of the Duchamp work. In her self-conscious affectation of the often absurdist posturing of a fashion model, Wilke willfully uses her own image and her sexuality to confront the erotic representation of women in art history and popular culture. This piece was originally seen as part of an installation.
Made for the film “Befragung der Freiheitsstatue C’est La Vie Rrose” by Hans-Christof Stenzel. Camera: Lothar E. Stickelbrucks. Editor: Rosemarie Stenzel-Quast. Performed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, June 15, 1976.