HARRIET “HARRY” DODGE
In the early 1990s, Harry Dodge was one of the founders of a community-based gathering and performance space, The Bearded Lady, which galvanized and provided a touchpoint for a then-new DIY, poly-sexual queer scene in San Francisco. In association with this venue, Dodge curated several successful writing and performance series, which launched many writers and artists onto the national stage. During that time, Harry also wrote, directed, and performed several critically-acclaimed, evening-length monologues/performances (such as 1997's Muddy Little River, and 1998's From Where I'm Sitting). This work, which the Bay Area Reporter called "performance genius," received significant critical attention, including a cover feature in the SF Weekly.
In the latter part of 1990s, Harry co-wrote, wrote, directed, edited and starred in a narrative digital video feature, By Hook or By Crook, which premiered at the 2002 Sundance Festival, and went on to become a five-time Best Feature winner, securing theatrical release from Artistic License, national video/DVD distribution with Wolfe video, and circulation on the Sundance Channel.
Ambivalent about the formal concessions involved with film industry viability, Harry subsequently turned attention to an (ongoing) fine arts practice, earning an MFA from Bard College (2001), working primarily in video, sculpture and writing. Harry’s practice has since employed a range of elements deriving from a diverse background: performative video (behind and in front of the camera), narrative fundaments, conventional film grammar (punctuated by dysphoric sound and visual collage), found and made objects and footages, installation-based presentations, social experiments, live performance, costumes (with a special interest in hoods and masks), theatricality, and frequently, cartoon-based drawings.
From 2004 to 2009, Harry was part of a collaborative videomaking team represented by Elizabeth Dee Gallery in New York. The collaboration's work was selected for inclusion in the Whitney Biennial 2008, and has been extensively featured and well-reviewed in many periodicals, including a feature in Frieze, a cover article in Artforum, a New York Times feature, as well as numerous positive mentions in reviews of the Whitney Biennial (The New Yorker, Artforum, TimeOut, Art in America). The collaboration's 2008 solo show at Elizabeth Dee was named (by Howard Halle) in TimeOut NY as one of the top 5 shows of the year. This work has also been included in group exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, the Getty Institute, and the Hammer Museum. New York's Museum of Modern Art acquired the video piece, Can't Swallow It, Can't Spit It Out, for their permanent collection. Two of the collaboration's works were also included in "California Video" at the Getty; a still from the video piece "Whacker" was chosen as the cover for the show's catalogue. In 2008, Harry also co-founded a distinct collaboration, TESTHOLE, which has undertaken a series of community-based, interventions/partnerships experimenting with decomposition and fertility in Los Angeles. Video, audio and artifact documents regarding this project will figure into plans for its eventual exhibition.
Other recent activities have included a 2009 talk and video program (presented at Light Industry in Brooklyn) titled "Hooded and Headless: An Erratic Survey of Anonymity in Recent Video and Life," which explored the function and condition of anonymity and faciality in contemporary art, life. In 2009, Dodge also worked with Rachel Harrison during her show at the Hessel Museum in upstate New York, "Consider The Lobster and Other Essays." Here Dodge curated a room of works from the Hessel collection that explored various evolving states of nameability and figuration via groupings of 80 or so works of art; Art in America called the room an "example of visually stunning contrasts" whose "[u]northodox installation lends room for experimentation that allows for fluid visual connections and the type of conceptual leaps that make Harrison's postmodern sensibility possible."
Harry has taught video art, cultural studies, new genres, creative writing, and sculpture at a variety of institutions, including UCLA, UC San Diego, CalArts, and Bard College's MFA program.
From community organizing to feature film work to video art to sculptural practice, Dodge's most abiding intellectual and artistic interests have been in dimensionality, materiality, the unnameable, between-ness or "bardos" of various kinds, cyclicality, and post-binary possibilities. Harry’s current body of work continues to investigate these concerns, with a pointed focus on resilience, transformation, brutality, and the precariousness engendered by humans and human exploits.
Dodge’s next show of new work is scheduled to open in March 2012 at Wallspace in NYC.