Art Herstory (1974)

Sub-Genres - Art History  |  
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Hermine Freed, a New York based artist, made this video while she was the artist in residence at the Television Lab at WNET. In Art Herstory, a founding work of feminist video, Freed uses a chromakey to insert herself physically into a series of paintings, occupying the position of each painting's female subject. It would be too simplistic to say that she gives these present absent figures a voice and a physical presence denied to them as objects, rather Freed's relation to these figures is much more complicated and personal. As she searches for a connection to the women in the paintings, Freed is also concerned with the consequences of her acts for history, "The sequence of images on this tape is different than the sequence in which they were produced. Have I altered my history for the sake of world history?" Her concerns are more than just simply feminist and subvert the didacticism popularly associated with feminist art. The images themselves posses a technicolor beauty and Freed's humorous asides while posing give the video a trenchantly light tone. In the history of video art, Art Herstory marks a split between experimentalist and feminist video work, between the technical versus the political.