It Wasn’t Love
Video, b/w, sound
January 19 – March 10, 2024
(Schaufenster am Hofgarten & online)
The onsite and online series Schaufenster simultaneously presents video works in the two permanently accessible spaces of the institution—the window display facing the Hofgarten as well as the website. The series initially ran from 2019 through 2021 and resumes this January with a year-long program presenting works that explore the conditions of artistic production and the gendered self.
The series recommences with artist Sadie Benning. In their video works from the early 1990s, extreme close-ups of their face appear as they speak into a Pixelvision camera. Benning’s narrations and reflections of a range of subjects such as the challenges of adulting, sexual identity, and erotic play are placed within montages of photos, home videos, television and film snippets, and text.
Benning’s video on view, It Wasn’t Love (1992), illustrates a lustful encounter with a “bad girl” through the gender posturing and genre interplay of Hollywood stereotypes: posing for the camera as the rebel, the platinum blonde, the gangster, the 1950s crooner, or the heavy-lidded vamp. Benning’s work complicates and destabilizes binary systems of gender. It goes farther than romantic fantasy, describing other facets of physical attraction including fear, violence, lust, guilt, and total excitement. As they have put it, “It wasn’t love, but it was something....” It was a chance to feel glamorous, sexy, and famous—all at the same time.
Video stills: It Wasn’t Love, 1992. Image copyright of the artist, courtesy of Video Data Bank, School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
The project is funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation and the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.