The F Word

October 16, 2008

By Stacey Ho
Don Lee, Banff Centre

Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan, Lesbian Park Rangers. Photo: Don Lee, Banff Centre

The sixties and seventies saw the rise of two major trends in North American art. With the rise of second-wave feminism, mostly white, middle-class women began to explore issues of gender and power, seeking agency from predetermined social and economic roles. Concurrently, this era saw the rise of video technology, so that, for the first time, moving pictures could be produced and distributed cheaply, outside of commercial television channels and large studios.

The F Word, at Vancouver’s Western Front, brings together these two trajectories, looking at women who used video to explore gender, performance and develop a critical methodology. The show includes contemporary as well as historic pieces, such as Lisa Steele‘s 1977 The Ballad of Dan Peebles.

“It’s Lisa when she’s younger,” explains Candice Hopkins, curator at Western Front. “She’s holding this picture of her grandfather, almost like she’s channeling him in a way, in a frantic or sensitive way. She channels memories of him and speaks in a monologue for sixteen or seventeen minutes about this man. You get a sense of a bit of a troubling relationship, of abuse and loss. An incredible performance.”

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