Mary Medusa

Video production. A description of the work on Finger in the Dyke reads, “Dempsey and Millan’s first video, a re-telling of the classical Medusa myth from the Medusa’s own perspective.”

The following text is taken from Front Magazine vol. IV, no. 4, p. 21, March/April 1993:

Winnipeg based artists Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan have been collaborating on a feminist, costume-based performance art since 1989. They have become known across the country for pieces such as Object/Subject of Desire, Mermaid in Love, Mary Medusa and Plaster Virgin. however they are most infamous for We’re Talking Vulva, a five-minute rap performance in which Dempsey dresses as giant female genitalia, and gleefully describes its parts and functions while “getting down”. The film adaptation of We’re Talking Vulva (1990) has played allover the world to an estimated audience of over 1 million viewers. Dempsey and Millan recently screened it at the third international Istanbul biennial, where it was one of seven entries chosen to represent Canada.

Our work with the Medusa myth/icon began as an exploration of women with power (who has power? do we have the power? where can I get some?). Medusa was attractive to us because of her ability to turn men to stone. By force of her resplendent ugliness she had the upper hand, the last laugh.

The ways we control and are controlled are essential tools in the maintenance of our consumptive machine. This machine feeds on opposition: male/female, black/white, homo/normo, have/have not. This machine’s appetite is seemingly without bounds.

But what of our appetite? What if we no longer control, or worse yet, lose control ourselves? What if we lose it and turn our head and each of our snake he locks against status quo economics, sexual politics, and morality? 

Well, it could get messy…

“A woman out of control is a frightening thing.”

Dempsey and Millan will be artists in residence during the month of April reconceptualizing their performance piece Object/Subject of Desire for video.