Cheryl Donegan
USA, 1962
Cheryl Donegan burst onto the art scene in the early 1990s as part of a new generation of creators (including many women) who had drawn lessons from conceptual practices and were prepared to freely make use of a wide range of media. Video, painting, photography, drawing and installation came together in a way of working that treated them as tools rather than specific languages to be mastered. Donegan became known through a series of low-tech videos that present performative actions carried out before the camera. In these early works, one can already note some of the defining features of her later work, including humour, a carefree quality, a critical attitude, provocation, playfulness and a sense of irony. The pieces target what initially appear to be disparate subjects, such as stereotypes of male sexuality (Head, 1993) and certain figures in the history of twentieth-century art, including Franz Kline, whom she parodies (for using the bodies of his models like brushes) by squatting in green paint and then using her bottom to form shamrocks on paper to the accompaniment of recorded music (Kmria.mp4, 1992). Donegan employs a broad range of references—drawn from art, pop music, the media, advertising, fashion, pornography and other sources—to offer a biting critique of the dominant culture and accepted social behaviours, addressing these issues by means of gestures, actions and apparently banal stories into which she introduces devastating depth charges. In The Janice Tapes (2000), which includes the videos Lieder, Cellardoor, and Whoa Whoa Studio (for Courbet), Donegan once again appears before the camera. In this case we see the artist with her head wrapped in adhesive tape, performing a series of scripted actions—though they appear random and absurd—that she uses to reflect on artistic practice, painting, the studio as a production space, the notion of performance, and the creative process. Cheryl Donegan studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and later at Hunter College in New York. Her work has been shown at venues including the Guggenheim Museum and MoMA PS1 in New York, the Whitney Biennial, the Lyon Biennial, the Venice Biennale, the Museum of Modern Art in Chicago, and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.
Alicia Murría