Introduction by Cecilia Dougherty

This program pairs Paul McCarthy and Mike Kelley’s wickedly funny restagings of legendary multimedia artist Vito Acconci’s most canonical pieces with a video work by Cecilia Dougherty that reimagines The Beatles as four women

Fresh Acconci
Paul McCarthy & Mike Kelley, USA, 1995, digital projection, 45m

The legendary multimedia artist Vito Acconci now works primarily in large-scale installations, but is still best known for the groundbreaking pieces of performance art he developed in the 1970s. In 1995, Paul McCarthy—another performance artist of great stature—and the late Mike Kelley collaborated on this playful, wickedly funny, and razor-sharp restaging of five of Acconci’s most canonical pieces, newly set in a Southern California mansion and choreographed for a group of female models. Fresh Acconci is at once an affectionate homage to the ’70s low-budget skin flick and an irreverent refusal of the artist’s right to dignity.

Image courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York. 

Cecilia Dougherty, USA, 1989, digital projection, 40m

Reimagining The Beatles as four women (including a young Susie Bright as John Lennon), Grapefruit restages events leading up to the band’s breakup at the end of the 1960s, culled from Yoko Ono’s memoirs. Shot on videotape, the episodes—a reenactment of Ono’s seminal “Cut Piece,” the “Bed-In” with Lennon, Harrison waxing over Buddhist philosophy while strumming an unplugged electric guitar—retain the feel of a home movie while simultaneously opening up a crucial space in history for lesbians where they’re no longer on the margins. Per Dougherty: “It is not about lesbians, it is lesbian.”