Sadie Benning is a lesbian videomaker who began making videos when she was 15 years old, using a Fisher Price Pixelvision toy camera. Benning’s early works were made in the privacy of her childhood bedroom, using scrawled and handwritten text from diary entries to record thoughts and images that reveal the longings and complexities of a developing identity.
Evoking in turn playful seduction and painful honesty, Benning’s floating, close-up camera functions as a witness to her intimate revelations, and as an accomplice in defining her evocative experimental form. Her work emerges from a place half-innocent and half-adult—with all the honesty, humor, and desperation of a personality just coming into self-awareness, trapped and uneasy. Her more recent work moves beyond the Pixelvision camera and into animation and film.
A New Year
06:00 b/w 1989
In a version of the “teenage diary,” Benning places her feelings of confusion and depression alongside grisly tales of tabloid headlines and brutal events in her neighborhood.
05:10 b/w 1989
When she was 16, Benning stopped going to high school for three weeks and stayed inside with her camera, her TV set, and a pile of dirty laundry. A mirror held to her psyche.
Me and Rubyfruit
05:30 b/w 1990
The enchantment of teenage lesbian love against a backdrop of pornographic images and phone sex ads. Benning portrays the innocence of female romance and the taboo prospect of female marriage.
If Every Girl Had a Diary
09:00 b/w 1990
Training her pixelvision camera on herself and her room, Benning searches for a sense of identity and respect as a woman and a lesbian.
11:00 b/w 1990
Benning gives a chronology of her crushes and kisses, tracing the development of her nascent sexuality.
A Place Called Lovely
14:00 b/w 1991
Benning collects the types of violence individuals find in life—from actual beatings, accidents and murders, to the more insidious violence of lies, social expectations, and betrayed faith.
It Wasn’t Love
20:00 b/w 1992
Benning illustrates a lustful encounter with a “bad girl,” through the gender posturing and genre interplay of Hollywood stereotypes.
15:00 b/w 1992
Benning relates her personal rebellion against school, family, and female stereotypes as a story of personal freedom, telling how she used to model like Matt Dillon and skip school to have adventures Alone. A raucous vision of what it meant to be a radical girl in the 90s, with music by Bikini Kill.
05:00 b/w 1995
Shot in black and white Super-8, this lyrical short follows a wandering, disengaged youth through grey afternoons. Features the hard-edged music of Come, an alternative band from Boston.
The Judy Spots
15:00 b/w 1995
These five short videos introduce Judy, a paper maché puppet who ruminates on her position in society.
Flat is Beautiful
50:00 b/w 1998
Flat is Beautiful is an experimental live-action cartoon using masks, animation, subtitles, drawings, and dramatic scenes to investigate the psychic life of an androgynous eleven-year-old girl.
Julie Ruin – Aerobicide
This music video for the band Julie Ruin, fronted by Kathleen Hanna, formerly of Bikini Kill, critiques the cynical music marketeers of corporate America. Criticism particularly targets campaigns aimed at women, which Benning and Hanna refer to here as the “Girls Rule (kind of) Strategy.”
1.32GB | 2h 40m | 704×480 | avi