Vaginal Davis is a key figure in the history of queer music, performance, and video art. She emerged from Los Angeles’s 1970s queer and punk performance scenes, creating her own mythology during live shows with her “multiracial, maxi-gendered” bands. She turned to video in the late 1980s, mixing identity, fiction, and critique in satiric narratives, underground documentaries, and a video offshoot of her influential zine Fertile La Toyah Jackson. In conjunction with the exhibition, The White to be Angry at the Art Institute of Chicago (February 1–April 26, 2020), Davis presents a selection of some of her most significant video works from the 1980s and 1990s and joins Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow Solveig Nelson for a discussion of the period.
1986–99, United States, digital video, ca 75 minutes followed by discussion.
Presented in partnership with the Art Institute of Chicago and the Society for Contemporary Art.
Vaginal Davis in person
Vaginal Davis is a performer and artist who is based in Berlin. Davis has performed widely, including recently for documenta 14. Her work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions at Gropius Bau, Berlin (2019); Adams and Ollman, Portland, Oregon (2018); and Liste Art Fair Basel, Switzerland (2018); as well as 80WSE (2016); INVISIBLE-EXPORTS (2015); the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art (2015); and PARTICIPANT INC. (2012), all in New York. Her work has also been included in group exhibitions at the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany (2019); New Museum, New York (2017); National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest, Romania (2009); the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Rijeka, Croatia (2009); and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2008), among many others. She will participate in the Gwangju Biennial 2020. Davis was a member of the Los Angeles–based punk bands Pedro, Muriel, and Esther (PME), Black Fag, Afro Sisters, and ¡Cholita! The Female Menudo. A prolific filmmaker, she has also produced zines and many other publications.