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Video: Portrait of the Artist As a Young Lesbian

Thursday, September 19, 1991
Coal Miner's Granddaughter
Cecilia Dougherty 1991

Artist in Person Presented with support from the Theresa Hak Kyung Cha Endowment. "I'm Jane Dobson and this is my damn story." So begins an off-kilter comedy of sexual reckoning in the seventies. Coal Miner's Granddaughter uses semi-autobiographical tidbits to dis a dysfunctional family. Lancaster, PA is the opening site for the specifics of the great American breakdown. Jane (played with comic fragility by Leslie Singer) is the quiet, sickly one in a domestic unit comprised of venomous daddy Dobson (Kevin Killian), momma unbearable (Didi Dunphy), and two hapless siblings. Relieved of the family fetters, Jane leaves for college, only to discover that she isn't attracted to academia, she's attracted to women. This new-found knowledge takes her to San Francisco where she gets the grand erotic tour, from floor to Sealy. Jane's sexuality is an expression of her haunted vulnerability. You can read her helplessness in every glinting thigh, every leathery harness. Shot with a low-end camcorder, C.M.G. has the murky look of memory; the camera wanders restlessly as if searching out some truth from Jane's past. What it finds are Plain Janes with big desires.-Steve Seid

• Written, Photographed, Edited by Cecilia Dougherty. Music by Mermaid Tattoo, She-Devil. Also with Amanda Hendricks, Glen Helfand, Ramon Churruca, Claire Trepanier, Clancy Cavnar. (1991, 80 mins, B&W/ Color, 3/4" Video, Cassette from the artist)