Borrowing and subverting images from popular culture, Sadie Benning intimate paintings exposes media’s role in constructing false and oppressive stereotypes of women, gender and sexual identity. Her work incorporates family photos and everyday objects to reflect a truly original and important contemporary voice. The artist pursues issues of gender by drawing upon the vernacular of popular culture, namely newspapers, television and cinema.
When she was age fifteen Sadie Benning’s father gave her a kiddie PixelVision camera, a device that recorded grainy black-and-white video on standard audio cassettes. She promptly made showstopper single-channel videos—including Me and Rubyfruit and Jollies. The short videos captured her feelings of angst, confusion and alienation, as she was coming out in middle America. (She was the first sixteen-year-old to show her work at MoMA.) As she continued to make grainy narrative videos, she joined the feminist post-punk band, Le Tigre. Benning slowly moved on to installation, performance, drawing, painting, and then to sculpture. All her work challenges traditional notions of masculinity and femininity, and probes intimate subjects that are close to her personal life.