Video has been central to Cheryl Donegan's art since the early 1990s, when she burst onto the scene as part of a generation of artists developing a new conceptual art practice. Across media, Donegan's works from the last two decades are unified by a sustained interrogation of surfaces–the surface of a canvas, of a screen, of fabric, of disposable plastic, of the artist's own body. Donegan's work integrates the time-based, gestural forms of performance and video with forms such as painting, drawing, and installation. Donegan's works draw from a panoply of pop cultural and art historical references, from Jean-Luc Godard to the Beach Boys, from cutting-edge fashion to Barnett Newman's "zips" and Pollock's splatter paintings.
In a series of audacious lo-fi videos produced in the 1990s, Donegan created brash exercises in masquerade, role-playing, and exposure. Using her own body as metaphor, she executed performative actions before the camera; these conceptual performances often resulted in or related to process paintings and drawings. Direct, irreverent, and infused with an ironic eroticism, these works put a subversive spin on issues relating to sex, gender, art-making, and art history. Donegan exorcised confining clichés and sexist archetypes drawn from art history and pop culture, purging them through performance.
In her most recent works, contemporary fashion is Donegan's touchstone, as she engages in an expanded dialogue with the designers, fabrics, and ideas in which we continually resurface our bodies. Taking these loaded and functional second-skins as inspiration, Donegan is in the process of reconnecting with earlier concerns from a new direction.
Her forthcoming solo exhibition at Galerie VidalCuglietta, Brussels, was inspired by fashion designer Rei Kawakubo's 1997 "Lumps and Bumps" collection for Comme des Garçon. Within the exhibition, Donegan's newest video, Blood Sugar—assembled from appropriated images around video of models walking on deliberately shadowy catwalk—will be projected against a vintage vinyl jacket. About her new work, premiering in New York at EAI, Donegan says: "As the title suggests, another bodily metaphor, metabolism, is at play in the continuous cycle and recycle of images. As the models emerge and recede into darkness, images and patterns appear, degrade and reemerge to an uninterrupted beat. The cycle continues, just as we continue to flow and burn."
Cheryl Donegan was born in 1962 in New Haven, Connecticut. She received her B.F.A. in Painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and an M.F.A. at Hunter College in New York. She was an artist-in-residence at ART/OMI, and Banff Center for Fine Arts, Alberta, Canada. Her videos have been exhibited internationally in museums, galleries, and festivals including, in New York, at The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1, Guggenheim Museum Soho, White Columns, the 1995 Biennial Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York Film and Video Festival; and at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; 1993 Venice Biennale; Galerie Rizzo, Paris; the Biennale d'Art Contemporain de Lyon, France; and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Donegan has had one-person shows at Nicelle Beauchene, New York; Galerie VidalCuglietta, Brussels; Hidde Van Seggelen Gallery, London; Lotta Hammer, London; Baumgartner Galleries, Washington, D.C.; Basilico Fine Arts and the Elizabeth Koury Gallery, New York; as well as solo exhibitions in Nice, Paris, Berlin, and Milan. Donegan is included in NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star currently on view at The New Museum, New York and has a forthcoming solo exhibition at Galerie VidalCuglietta, Brussels. She lives and works in New York.
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Founded in 1971, Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) is one of the world's leading nonprofit resources for video art. A pioneering advocate for media art and artists, EAI fosters the creation, exhibition, distribution, and preservation of video art and digital art. EAI's core program is the distribution and preservation of a major collection of over 3,500 new and historical media works by artists. EAI's activities include viewing access, educational services, extensive online resources, and public programs such as artists' talks, exhibitions and panels. The Online Catalogue is a comprehensive resource on the artists and works in the EAI collection, and also features extensive materials on exhibiting, collecting and preserving media art:
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