Ellen Cantor, Puppet Show, n.d. Photo Credit: Estate of Ellen Cantor

Ellen Cantor: "Mine are 'true' love stories..."*
Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture
136 West 22nd Street, New York

From September to November 2016, the life and work of 1991 Skowhegan alumna Ellen Cantor (1961-2013) was the focus of an unprecedented joint effort by the Estate of Ellen Cantor and seven organizing venues. The collaboration will consisted of four concurrent exhibitions of her work at Foxy Production, Maccarone, Participant Inc, and NYU’s 80WSE Gallery, a screening of her video works at Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) and the world premiere of Cantor’s film Pinochet Porn (2008-2016) at The Museum of Modern Art. The Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture hosted a series of five panels curated by Natasha Marie Llorens at their New York program space which provided a glimpse into Cantor's deeply introspective and collaborative practice.

A highly respected feminist artist who emerged during the 1990s, Cantor made significant contributions to contemporary art in the fields of drawing, video art, film, painting, sculpture, as well as writing, and curating exhibitions and screenings. A vast majority of her work explored the relationship between fiction and life, the simultaneous presence of goodness and evil, and the role of the female protagonist—as depicted in popular culture as well as manifested in her own personal life. Throughout her career, she remained concerned with the appropriation and representation of these protagonists as a means of autobiography.

*taken from a 1995 artist statement.


Making Video as Film
A panel composed of people with a deep understanding of both Cantor’s work and formal knowledge of film and video, either from a critical, curatorial or artistic perspective. The discussion aims to contextualize Cantor’s work in the formal histories she drew from—mainstream and independent film, video art, pornography, and photography.

Featuring Peggy Ahwesh, Karl McCool, and John Thomson, moderated by Johanna Fateman.

What the Feminist Body Wants
This panel will try to extend Ellen’s critical perspective on sexually explicit material to the present, or to contextualize her contribution in reverse. The discussion will address the different stakes of visibility for normative vs. non-normative sexualities.

Featuring A.K. Burns, Jack Halberstam, Xandra Ibarra, and Julie Tolentino, moderated by Natasha Marie Llorens.

Why Explicit?
Lorraine O’Grady’s provocation, published as an essay for the first version of “Coming to Power,” was this question: where is the sexually explicit work by women of color, and what discourses is it responding to? This panel does not necessarily answer O’Grady’s question, but rather explores how sexually explicit material resonates outside the realm of hegemonic whiteness.

Featuring Lorraine O'Grady, Sondra Perry and Sable Elyse Smith, moderated by Vivian Crockett.

Portrait of an Artist: Ellen Cantor
The panel takes a genealogical view of the artist in order to give a sense of who and what influenced Cantor, as well as whom she influenced. The discussion will address key exhibitions, bodies of work, and scenes Cantor was involved in both in London and New York.

Featuring Joseph Grigely, Gerald Matt, and Nicola Tyson, moderated by Nicola Lees.

The Making of Pinochet Porn
This panel will discuss the work’s major themes (sexually explicit material, representations of war and violence, humor and sexuality, etc.), the personal narratives underpinning the film, and the editing process.

Featuring John Brattin, Lia Gangitano, Cy Gavin, Jay Kinney, and Josh Thorson moderated by Clara López Menéndez.