Madwoman in the Attic

1990-1996: Madwoman in the Attic

After a long time I heard her say as if she were talking to herself, “I have said all I want to say. I have tried to make you understand. But nothing has changed.” She laughed. (Jean Rhys)

Many of the works in this series are derived from novels, short stories and poems discussed in The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-century Literary Imagination by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar published in 1979. Short stories referenced include: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gillman and A Jury of Her Peers by Susan Glaspell Keeting. Novels include The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. Poetry includes The Three Marias: New Portuguese Letters by Maria Isabel Barreno, Maria Teresa Horta and Maria Velho da Costa based on the seventeenth century Letters of a Portuguese Nun.

Yellow Wallpaper Installation

I really have discovered something... The front pattern does move - and no wonder! The woman behind shakes it! Sometimes I think there are a great many women behind, and sometimes only one, and she crawls around fast, and her crawling shakes it all over. (Charlotte Perkins Gillman)

On February 6th we moved (Dora, Katharine and I) to 1258 Webster Street, taking three furnished rooms... On the eighth: 'I take Katharine to her first school, Miss Wyman, on Alice Street a lovely girl, the teacher, just a pleasant little home school, Kate likes it.' (Notes about Gillman's time in Oakland from her 1935 autobiography, The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gillman)

Yellow Wallpaper (1990) was a site specific installation at the Alice Hotel, Alice Street, Oakland, California. It was inspired by Charlotte Perkins Gillman's short story, The Yellow Wallpaper (1892), an early feminist work about attitudes towards women and women's health. The installation included the act of tearing out wallpaper, writing and drawing on the walls, sound and performance.

The footage for these short abstract, narrative films was hand developed by stuffing it into a photo can and putting it through black and white photo processing. This resulted in negative images with visible scratches. The footage was then projected, re-shot, and developed again, this time resulting in a positive image. Both were mixed during editing.

North Wind, 1989, hand developed black&white super 8 film, stereo sound, 3:27 min. Based on the opening lines in Susan Glaspell's short story, A Jury of Her Peers

Tulips, 1990 (remixed 2009), hand developed black&white super 8 film, 1:00 min. Keukenhof, the Netherlands