Artists Space

Attention Line Cinema Series: Vaginal Davis

July 27 – August 6

As part of Attention Line, Artists Space presents a selection of videos by Vaginal Davis in our downstairs cinema.

Vaginal Davis initially emerged in the late 1970s punk scene of Los Angeles and came to be a key figure in the sphere of queer music, performance and video art. Naming herself after the activist Angela Davis, she created her own mythology during the live performances of her “multiracial, maxi-gendered” bands—an interplay between identity, fiction, and critique that also informs her influential xeroxed zines and later video work. Her many musical ventures include Afro Sisters, ¡Cholita!, and Pedro, Muriel & Esther (PME). Davis is a founding figure in the “homocore” movement that reinterpreted hardcore punk through queer cultures, as well as the art and music networks of the 1990s that influenced the emergence of the feminist punk Riot Grrrl movement. Currently based in Berlin, Davis’s work has a distinctly American humor and divinely disgraceful sensibility that combats cultural stereotypes and elevates marginalized subcultures. Riffing on popular tropes aped from music videos, films, and TV, Davis creates cutting parodies that explore the complicated, and often brutal, experience of American life.

A grainy black and white photo of a woman craning her head and shoulders, looking into a large camera. In the background there are trees with leaves.
Vaginal Davis, The White to Be Angry (still), 1999. [A grainy black and white photo of a woman craning her head and shoulders, looking into a large camera. In the background there are trees with leaves.]

All of the following films will play during open hours on a continuous loop:

VooDoo Williamson-Dona of Dance
1994, Color video converted to digital
17:42 minutes

"The Dona of Dance Vaginal Davis plays a deluded dance doyenne taking inner city youth off the streets and introducing them to that little green flower known as 'the dance.'"
– Vaginal Davis (VD)

1995, Color video converted to digital
6:45 minutes

"A mini documentary by three time Emmy Award winner Michele Mills, recording her time in the raucous Hollywood art band and girl gang."
– VD

The Last Club Sucker
1999, Color video converted to digital
32:41 minutes

"A roving camera follows Ms. Davis’ antics at her Silverlake Beer Bust and performance space Club Sucker at the Garage (1994- 1999) as it came to a joyous end."
– VD

The White to be Angry
1999, Color video converted to digital
19:22 minutes

"A nutters pastiche stabbing toxic masculinity, race, and gender, in the style of an MTV music video, while thrashing thorny filmmakers Clive Barker, Woody Allen and Bruce LaBruce. Not for the faint of fart."
– VD

Tom Cruise Loves Women
2000, Color video converted to digital
19 minutes

"Vaginal Davis and Billy Miller of Straight to Hell and the Manhattan Review of Unnatural Acts dissect the hysteria prone Hollywood matinee idol Tom Cruise."
– VD

Berlin Stories
2001, Color video converted to digital
20:08 minutes

"Davis creates a moving omnibus film that serves as a catalyst for the formation of the celebrated CHEAP Kollektive."
– VD

Vaginal Davis is a prolific American performing artist, painter, curator, musician, filmmaker, and writer who became prominent in the 1980s. Her artistic production extends into membership in a number of bands including The Afro Sisters, Black Fag, ¡Cholita! The Female Menudo, and Pedro, Muriel, & Esther, along with many solo projects. She has produced numerous remarkable zines and publications including Dowager, Crude, Fertile La Toyah Jackson, Shrimp, Yes, Ms. Davis, and Sucker. Davis’s work has been included in exhibitions at the New Museum (2017), 80WSE (2016), Cooper Union (2015), and Participant Inc. (2010, 2012) in New York, and she has hosted and curated the performative film event Rising Stars, Falling Stars at the Arsenal Institut für Film und Videokunst in Berlin for eight years. In 2009, Davis was awarded the Ethyl Eichelberger Art Prize.

Program support is provided by Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation, The Cowles Charitable Trust, The Cy Twombly Foundation, The David Teiger Foundation, The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, The New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, Imperfect Family Foundation, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation, The Willem de Kooning Foundation, The Fox Aarons Foundation, Herman Goldman Foundation, The Destina Foundation, The Luce Foundation, May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, The Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, Arison Arts Foundation, The David Rockefeller Fund, The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation, The Jill and Peter Kraus Foundation, The Richard Pousette-Dart Foundation.