Suffragette Slasher

experimentalfilm, gender, archives

Format: digital video
Duration: 3 minutes & 16 seconds
Year: 2008

I learned about Mary Richardson in a class in graduate school called “Feminist Aesthetics.” Richardson was a suffragette who grew up on the shores of Lake Ontario in the small town of Belleville in the early twentieth century. As a member of the militant British suffrage group, the Women’s Social and Political Union, she slashed Diego Velázquez’s famous painting, the Rockeby Venus in London’s National Gallery several times before she was forcibly stopped.

I re-enacted Richardson’s protest action, editing the footage with many tiny cuts, every five frames, creating a strobe effect. For two minutes, viewers see a single shot, the sustained action of Richardson getting dressed as she prepares to carry out this act of violence. Interrupting this activity however, every five frames, are shots of Richardson at the museum carrying out the slashing action. The effect is one of increasing tension and at times the images appear to overlap.

Funded by the New York State Council on the Arts & the Tonawandas Council on the Arts / Carnegie Art Center.

This video received Special Recognition from Juror Kelly Reichardt at the 35th Northwest Film & Video Festival at the Northwest Film Center in Portland, Oregon, November 2008.