Frenzy: A Riot Decade

Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 7:00 pm
The Kitchen

512 West 19th Street
New York, NY 10011

-Filmmakers Michael Lucid, Jennifer Reeves and Jill Reiter
in attendance-

Jennifer Reeves, Monsters in the Closet, 16mm, 15min, 1993
Sadie Benning, It Wasn't Love, PixelVision, 20min, 1992
Jill Reiter, Frenzy, Super 8 on digital video, 12min, 1993
Shu Lea Cheang, Fingers and Kisses, video, 4min, 1995
Michael Lucid, Dirty Girls, video, 18min, 1996/2000

Some say it started with the call to arms, "we need to start a girl RIOT." In the 1990s, a generation of new voices—young, feminist, queer—took culture by storm through zines, music, and filmmaking. FRENZY traces that surge, from its adolescent stirrings and early inspiration in cinematic bad girl archetypes to the formation of a movement and entry into the consciousness of the mainstream, from works shot in a bedroom in Middle America to the dive bars of New York City, the streets and subways of Tokyo, and a high school in Santa Monica.

In her early short, Monsters in the Closet, Jennifer Reeves mines adolescent sexuality and rebellion, offering "dirty little girl stories, girl gangs, and other tales from the closets of adolescence." In her seminal video, It Wasn't Love, shot largely in her bedroom on a Fisher Price PixelVision camera, Sadie Benning further charts the growing pains of teenage queer girlhood, acting out various roles from Classical Hollywood iconography: the femme fatale, the platinum blonde, the 50s crooner, and the tattooed biker. Frenzy brings the grrrl riot to the New York City music scene, as Jill Reiter revels in the wild antics of a "queer grrrl" thrash band, whose even wilder audience is inspired to rip off their clothes and grab and kiss the grrrls in the band, tearing them away from their instruments. As Chris Straayer writes of Frenzy: "Raw energy is its style. It screams licentiousness." In Fingers and Kisses, Shu Lea Cheang finds a similar rawness and queer energy in Japan, capturing bold displays of lesbian public sexuality, with the help of Superdyke Inc, Japan, and the "out-and-loud" music of Chu. Dirty Girls offers a fascinating and funny glimpse into the riot grrrl movement at the height of its influence, as it entered the mainstream and American high schools everywhere. Dirty Girls comprises footage Michael Lucid shot in 1996 as a senior in high school and later edited into a short documentary while at NYU in 2000. As Lucid tells it, after making the festival circuit in 2000, Dirty Girls "sat in a box" in his apartment, "until Dirty Looks contacted him and asked him to upload it to YouTube so they could consider it for a screening; since then, it has racked up nearly 250,000 views and counting!"

Sadie Benning gained renown in the early 1990s for videos made with a Fisher Price PixelVision camera as a queer teenager living in Milwaukee. Those works helped define discourses around identity and art at the time (both within important movements in identity politics and the New Queer Cinema) and can be found in museum collections internationally, also finding air time on MTV and other popular platforms. She seamlessly transitioned to music and was a founding member of the feminist post-punk band Le Tigre. Her work has increasingly expanded, incorporating painting, sculpture, drawing, installation and sound. Recent solo exhibitions of her work have taken place in New York at Callicoon Fine Arts, Participant Inc, Orchard Gallery and Dia: Chelsea, as well as at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio and The Power Plant, Toronto.

Shu Lea Cheang is a multi-media artist working in the field of net-based installation, social interface and film production. Her net installation works are in the permanent collections of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; NTT [ICC], Tokyo; and the Guggenheim Museum, New York. She has made two theatrical feature films: Fresh Kill, which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 1994 and was included in the 1995 Whitney Biennial, and I.K.U., which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2000. She has cofounded several collectives: Kingdom of Piracy (based in net space since 2001); Mumbai Streaming Attack (based in Zurich since 2003); and TAKE2030 (based in London since 2003). Originally based in New York, Cheang has been a member of the Paper Tiger Television Collective since 1981. She currently lives and works in Paris.

Michael Lucid is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles. Lucid works for production company World of Wonder ("RuPaul's Drag Race," Party Monster) as drag lady reporter Damiana Garcia. His queer sketch comedy show, "Pretty Things," viewable on YouTube, has been online since 2005 and has been seen on cable access TV and at film festivals since 2001. His short documentary, Dirty Girls, shot when he was a high school senior in 1996 and later completed while at NYU in 2000, showed at film festivals, including MIX NYC and the New York Underground Film Festival. Dirty Girls recently gained new life as a viral video hit, becoming, in the words of the Village Voice, a "YouTube Sensation."

Jennifer Reeves is a New York-based filmmaker working primarily on 16mm film. Making experimental films since 1990, she was named one of the "Best 50 Filmmakers Under 50" by Cinema Scope in 2012. Her films have shown extensively, from the Berlin, New York, Vancouver, London, Sundance, and Hong Kong Film Festivals to many microcinemas in the US and Canada, the Robert Flaherty Seminar, and the Museum of Modern Art. Full multiple-screening retrospectives of her work have been held in recent years at Era New Horizons Film Festival in Wroclaw, Poland; Kino Arsenal in Berlin; Anthology Film Archives in New York; and San Francisco Cinematheque. Her most recent film, Landfill 16, premiered at the New York Film Festival in the fall of 2011 and won a Jury Prize at the 2012 Ann Arbor Film Festival. Reeves teaches film/video/animation at The Cooper Union and the School of Visual Arts in the Photography and Related Media MFA program.

Jill Reiter is a filmmaker whose super 8 & 16mm films captured 90's queer underground subcultures. Her short films have shown at the New Museum, The Whitney & at film festivals in Europe and the US. She is currently an excavationist & curator of the forgotten visual detritus of the 20th century, both high and low. Her subterranean montages can be seen in large scale video projections everywhere from SF/NYC nightclubs such as the venerable SF drag institution Trannyshack, & museums including SFMOMA & Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.