Catherine Sullivan

1968 | Los Angeles, United States
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Sponsor
— Catherine Bastide Gallery

American visual artist.

The work of Catherine Sullivan incorporates elements of culture, theatre, cinema, anthropology and dance (Yvonne Rainer in particular) to create pieces that do not pertain to any field in particular, yet belong to the visual arts. In the same vein as Kafka, Lynch, film noir, avant-garde cinema, and the universes of Bruce Nauman and Mike Kelley, her writings as well as the formal and conceptual complexity of her approach reveal a purely theoretical value. Trained as an actor, C. Sullivan uses theatre to explore the question of representation beyond modern conventions, notions of roles, interchangeable subjects and masks. For one of her first large video installations, Gold Standard (hysteric, melancholic, degraded, refined) from 2001, she appropriated a film sequence from The Miracle Worker (1962) by Arthur Penn, digging into the question of language, which the mute and blind heroine of the film lacks. She produced a strange choreography between documentary and burlesque show, in which a body, alternating between hysteria and melancholy, is reduced to a primitive tool engaged in various forces of standardisation, repression, education, and power.

The idea of power, from its constraints to its codes, is a constant theme in her work. In The Chittendens (2005), office employees and marines meeting one another are confined to stereotypical and absurd situations in which gestures of daily life are transformed into repetitive choreographies. The works of C. Sullivan are heightened by an incredible mastery of camera movements, composition, editing and directing of actors, but also totally deprived of a carnal or emotional dimension. Opposed to the Actors Studio methods, which she sometimes likes to parody, she leads her characters to a form of disembodiment. Captured in a web of demanding repertoire and restrained gestures, attitudes, décor and situations, the actor is removed from him or herself, deprived of expression, each deviation reflecting the anxiety of a strange pathology.

Stéphanie Moisdon

Translated from French by Katia Porro.

From the Dictionnaire universel des créatrices
© 2013 Des femmes – Antoinette Fouque
© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
Catherine Sullivan — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Catherine Sullivan, in collaboration with George Lewis, Charles Gaines and Sean Griffin, Aflterwords via Fantasia, 2015, mixed media installation, single channel video, color, sound, © Catherine Bastide Gallery

Catherine Sullivan — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Catherine Sullivan, The Chittendens, 2005, 6 channel video installation transferred from 16mm film 2/4’, black and with/colour, sound, film still, © Catherine Bastide Gallery

Catherine Sullivan — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Catherine Sullivan, The Chittendens, 2005, 6 channel video installation transferred from 16mm film 2/4’, black and with/colour, sound, film still, © Catherine Bastide Gallery

Catherine Sullivan — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Catherine Sullivan, The Startled Faction (a sensitivity training), 2018, anamorphic video, color, sound, 34’, installation view, Metro Pictures, New York, © Catherine Bastide Gallery

Catherine Sullivan — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Catherine Sullivan, in collaboration with Sean Griffin, Dylan Skybrook and Kunle Afolayan,Triangle of Need (Chicago), 2007, 3 channel projection, 16mm film transferred to digital media, black and white, sound, 19’32’’, © Catherine Bastide Gallery

Catherine Sullivan — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Catherine Sullivan, in collaboration with Sean Griffin, Dylan Skybrook and Kunle Afolayan, Triangle of Need (vizcaya), 2007, channel projection, 16mm film transferred to digital media, black and white/color, sound, 31’36’’, © Catherine Bastide Gallery

Catherine Sullivan — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Catherine Sullivan, Valérie Snobeck, Limited Good 3, 2013, installation view, Galerie Catherine Bastide, Frieze New York, © Catherine Bastide Gallery

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