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Article

Aileen June Wang

(b San Leandro, CA, Feb 3, 1972).

American performance and video artist of Chinese ancestry. Chang earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego in 1994. She showed her first solo exhibition at Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, in 1999. Her body of work focused on how people can be deceived, either through sight—what one sees is not necessarily true—or through mainstream assumptions about such topics as Asia, sexuality, and socially accepted behavior. Chang attributed her past stint in a cybersex company as the catalyst for exploring illusion as a theme. She realized that video flattened three-dimensional, live performances into a stream of two-dimensional images, enabling her to engage in visual deception.

Most of Chang’s early works investigated problems of gender and sexuality, using her own body and elements suggesting violence or transgression. The photograph Fountain (1999) depicted her inside a cubicle of a public lavatory, with a urinal visible on the far wall. Wearing a business suit, she knelt on hands and knees, seemingly kissing herself but actually slurping water off a mirror on the floor. The accompanying video focused on Chang’s face and her passionate interaction with her own reflection. While the photograph suggested female humiliation in a male world, the video complicated matters by implying that the act was motivated by narcissism....

Article

G. Lola Worthington

(Alva)

(b Milan, OH, Feb 11, 1847; d West Orange, NJ, Oct 18, 1931).

American inventor, entrepreneur, film producer and businessman. Edison invented numerous electrically based technologies. His father, Samuel Edison (1804–96), and mother, Nancy Matthews Elliot (1810–71), lived very modestly. Home schooled after he performed poorly in school, his formal educational experience lasted only three months. A shrewd businessman his instinctive abilities combined with his innovative inventions furthered his extensive research. He famously “invented” the first practical incandescent light bulb. Nicknamed the “Wizard of Menlo Park,” he established the first large American industrial research laboratory in Menlo Park, NJ.

Credited with developing predominant technical designs and electrically powered mechanisms for numerous devices, his inventions were instrumental toward the arts. Some principal imaginative, mechanical creations are the phonograph, electrically powered generators, individual home electricity, motion picture cameras and audio recordings. Edison patented his first motion picture camera, the “kinetograph,” and began his foray into film. In 1891 his kinetoscope, which allowed individuals to view short films through a peephole at the top of a cabinet, became highly lucrative. In ...

Article

Anne K. Swartz

(b Wasco, CA, 1945).

American installation, video and performance artist. The oldest of three children of a father from Tennessee and a mother with a Canadian–Scottish background, Lacy attended Bakersfield Junior College in 1963 and continued her studies at the University of California Santa Barbara. After receiving her BA in Zoology she joined Volunteers in Service Training to America (VISTA), administrated by the Maryland School of Social Design, becoming a community organizer in health care.

In Washington, DC, in 1969, she became radicalized as a feminist. She applied to graduate school at Fresno State University to study psychology. There she encountered Faith Wilding, a graduate student in English, and they began leading consciousness raising sessions. Soon after, artist Judy Chicago arrived from Los Angeles and started the Feminist Art Program; Lacy joined the program with Wilding and made the decision to become an artist (though she did continue to take classes in psychology at the same time). There, she learned to make art from her experience, including performances with other members of the program....

Article

Reena Jana

[Lee Seung-Hee]

(b Kye-Chang, Korea, 1970).

Korean photographer and filmmaker. Lee is known for her self-portraits, in which she presents herself in various ethnic and societal roles, from a middle-aged, low-income Hispanic party hostess to a young, wealthy Asian businesswoman. Lee received her BFA from the Chung-Ang University in South Korea in 1993, an AAS from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York in 1996, and an MA in Photography, New York University, 1999. For her Projects series (1997–2001), Lee immersed herself in various American communities for extended time, from a clique of teenage skateboarders to executives who work in midtown Manhattan, informing group members of her status as an artist while assuming the wardrobe, hairstyle and mannerisms of a fictional character she sought to portray. She then asked members of these social groups to photograph her using everyday cameras and no enhanced lighting or backgrounds. The result is a series of snapshot-like images depicting the artist taking on a multitude of temporary personalities. When seen together, the photographs suggest a mosaic of American experiences....

Article

Virginie Bobin

(b New York, NY, Nov 20, 1942).

American composer, performer, choreographer, vocalist, filmmaker and visual artist. After graduating from a combined performing arts program at Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY, in 1964, Monk joined the Judson Church group, which influenced her use of gestural movements in dance and her denial of the proscenium, already at stake in early pieces such as Juice: A Theater Cantata in 3 Installments (1969), which was performed in the spiraled ramp of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Minor Latham Playhouse at Barnard College and at her own New York loft. She founded her own company in 1968, the House, to explore an interdisciplinary approach to performance and quickly imposed her own style through pioneering site-specific works that established correspondences between dance, cinema, music and theater, and often explored cosmic themes such as spirituality, the quest of identity or the building of a community, as in Vessel, an Opera Epic...

Article

H. Alexander Rich

(b Honolulu, HI, 1966).

American video artist and sculptor. Pfeiffer exploited the latest in computer and video technology to examine the overwhelming power of mass media. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute (1987) and his Master of Fine Arts from Hunter College in New York (1994). He participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program (1997–8) and, among his many prizes and fellowships, was awarded the Whitney Museum’s Bucksbaum Award (2000).

Pfeiffer was born in Honolulu and grew up primarily in the Philippines but moved to the continental United States to pursue a career as an artist. Although he began producing his art in New York City in 1990, it was not until his breakthrough showing at the 2000 Whitney Museum Biennial that Pfeiffer was officially “discovered” by the art world. Even in his earliest works, he demonstrated a keen eye for the contradictions inherent in a world both dominated by celebrity culture and in which images define the ways people look at and interact with each other. Although photography, video and computers ostensibly connect people and transmit information as directly as possible, Pfeiffer dedicated his art to upturning these faulty assumptions about the veracity of what we see. Again and again, His work reveals his fascination with the ways in which the human image can be conveyed, distorted and fetishized through the mass media....

Article

Christine Filippone

(b Brooklyn, NY, July 29, 1943).

American photographer, video and performance artist, and critic. Rosler attended the Brooklyn Museum School and became involved in Civil Rights and anti-nuclear protests as a teenager. During this time, she saw a number of European films, notably filmmaker Sergey Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin (1925) and films by Jean-Luc Godard, as well as productions at the Living Theatre including those by playwright Bertolt Brecht, all of which became important influences for her. She also became part of the avant-garde East Village scene, which included the poet David Antin and the artist Eleanor Antin; through Antin and the poet Jerome Rothenberg she was introduced to the work of Fluxus, including Yoko Ono, and the performances of Carolee Schneemann.

At Brooklyn College, City University of New York, Rosler studied with Jimmy Ernst and attended classes held by Ad(olph Dietrich Friedrich) Reinhardt; she received her BA in English in 1965. In 1968 she moved to San Diego, where she became part of the Southern California feminist movement. In ...

Article

Anne K. Swartz

Splinter group from the American, male-dominated Art Workers’ Coalition (AWC), which refused to expand its protests on behalf of minority artists to include women. The Art Workers’ Coalition was a loose collective of progressive artists, filmmakers, writers, critics and museum workers started in January 1969 in New York. They wanted art institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) to restructure, reform and become more politically involved. The artist Takis (b 1925) wanted a work removed from a MOMA exhibition because he didn’t feel it represented his current work. Several artists met to discuss the political and social role of the artists. These meetings evolved into political activism with protests, letters and demonstrations. However, women artists felt increasingly marginalized by the male-dominance of the group and splintered off to form their own collective as Women Artists in Revolutions (WAR). Many women artists had no gallery affiliation, which made museum exhibition more difficult. They were especially annoyed by the Whitney Museum of American Art’s ...