Acting Like Women: Performance Art and the Woman’s Building
Documentary Project Participant
Director/Writer Cheri Gaulke
Supported in part by The Puffin Foundation and California Humanities – California Documentary Project
ACTING LIKE WOMEN tells the story of a movement – California feminist performance art of the 1970s. At the film’s center is the Woman’s Building in Los Angeles – an incubator for some of the most innovative, fearless and still-relevant work in the history of performance art. It was a birthplace for radical new ideas that made the art world take notice and laid the groundwork for future art and social justice movements.
Feminist performance art brought women’s private experience into the public consciousness illuminating issues like sexual identity, equal pay, and violence against women. Feminist artists were passionate about social justice and caring for the earth, creating some the first eco-feminist artworks. They exposed lesbian content, and claimed their bodies as sacred.
During this era, museums and galleries excluded women and artists of color. These women knew they were navigating blatant white male and East Coast bias. Los Angeles was at the epicenter of change. With performance art, they brought art out of the elite gallery system, into the streets and directly into people’s lives.
I was on the frontlines of these new art forms and practices – performance, ritual, collaboration, social engagement and media intervention. In 1980, I wrote these words:
Oh my goddess, I have been developing this film for the last 46 years!
This is not just my story – it is the story of many women. The film includes diverse multigenerational voices who participated in and were inspired by the groundbreaking performance art of the 1970s.