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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Peggy Ahwesh

New York,

Over the last twenty years, Peggy Ahwesh has produced one of the most heterogeneous bodies of work in the field of experimental film and video. A true bricoleur, her tools include narrative and documentary styles, improvised performance and scripted dialogue, synch-sound film, found footage, digital animation, and crude Pixelvision video. The work is primarily an investigation cultural identity and the role of the subject, in various genres.

Ahwesh started out with Super-8, attracted, like Stan Brakhage and Jonas Mekas before her, to the medium’s evocation of home movies. For her, this was a subversively amateur form, and also a discourse that yielded traditionally female-gendered themes like home and family, relationships, and confessions, which she appropriated as scenarios. She and other female filmmakers of the time had little use for the primarily formal strategies of the structural materialist film tradition (which was in any case dominated by men), and viewed conventions of direction, character, and performance as tools. For these filmmakers, feminism presented a viable avant-garde praxis: unlike the radical formal dislocations of materialist film, the political narrative inherent in feminist art was exceedingly resistant to cooptation by dominant media or advertising.

Her work has been widely shown, at the Guggenheim Museum, New York; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; the Balie Theater, Amsterdam; the Filmmuseum, Brussels; the Rotterdam International Film Festival, Rotterdam; Museu d’Art Contemporani Barcelona (MACBA), Barcelona; The Flaherty Seminar, the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and The Museum of Modern Art, New York, among other venues. Ahwesh had a mid-career retrospective in the New American Film & Video Series of the Whitney Museum called Girls Beware! (1997) and was featured in the epic program Big As Life: A History of American 8mm Films at MoMA. Her numerous awards include the Alpert Award in the Arts, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, and grants from the Jerome Foundation, Creative Capital, and the New York State Council on the Arts. She teaches at Bard College.

Feminist Artist Statement

I came of age in the 1970’s with feminism, punk and amateur Super 8 movie making. Formats, points of view, political positions and life styles inspired by these areas of investigation remain relevant to me and linger with a trace on everything I do.


Frame grab from the video Frankensteina. A remake of the classic horror tale with girls in the roles. Shot on Super 8mm film while babysitting.


Frame grab from the video Frankensteina. A remake of the classic horror tale with girls in the roles. Shot on Super 8mm film while babysitting.

Tears of Eros

A lexicon in the style of Georges Bataille.

The Deadman

Based on Le Mort by Georges Bataille, the story of Marie and her last night of extremes.

She Puppet

Video based on game play from Tombraider re-edited to reinscribe the narrative drive of the story and the agency of the main character Lara Croft.

The Star Eaters

An inconclusive treatise on women and gambling, in a cheap hotel off season in Atlantic City.

The Color of Love

Reworking of an amateur porn film found in the trash.

Certain Women

Sad tale of 4 young women trying to shape their lives in a time like the 1950’s when weepies were popular. Collaboration with Bobby Abate.



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Text, images, audio, and/or video in the Feminist Art Base are copyrighted by the contributing artists unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.