Live broadcasts set out to bring events to their audiences as they happen while delivering a sense of unedited immediacy. However, in this day and age, we know that live reports cannot been seen as truly credible sources given that elements such as technology, location, the depicted characters and the phrasing of the questions are all chosen and steered, thus contributing to an "event´s conception" as Derrida puts it. Every live report contains aspects of a performance, from the presenting anchor and local correspondents, to subtle mise-en-scène elements like make-up and lighting.
Female New York artists Wynne Greenwood and K8 Hardy have responded to this with the "New Report" video series of which two segments have been shot to date. In them, the two women serve as anchors for the fictitious feminist news channel WKRH, taking on the queer roles of Henry Stein-Acker-Hill (a cross between Gertrude Stein and Kathy Acker) and Henry Irigaray (Luce Irigaray). Turning to humour, they play up the mechanisms innate in television news. Each report is a performance that also tells us how television feeds off of clichés and stereotypes, while using one-dimensional characters to reach the masses. The two women´s namesakes Stein-Acker-Irigaray refer to the power of feminist theories to deconstruct such images and the way women are represented.
Flashy split-screen images like the female symbol in pink, berets reminiscent of the one Patty Hearst once wore, and microphones with larger-than-life foam-covering all serve to exaggerate things like political activism, feminist criticism and the television medium. And the videos´ improvised look is part DIY punk ethic, part conceptual art and part discourse.
The current reports include their clever debut "New Report Chelsea", set on various offbeat locations in the USA, and the more recent "New Report London". In both, Greenwood and Hardy embrace the features of live news broadcasting and their trademark trait of using an event as a narrative framework. Then the women instil the reports with an over-the-top sense of affirmation, which helps them to voice criticism on the art system and social conventions, while providing an outlet for subject matter that is otherwise underrepresented in mass media.
In the Chelsea report, which had been announced ahead of time as a public performance, Henry Irigaray rummages through the skips of Chelsea to get pictures a female artist supposedly threw away and finds canvases with political slogans. The women then sarcastically complain into the camera, asking who and what determines what art is really worth. Their pragmatic list of criteria as it were includes: background, colour, figure, sex, race, gender and education. And the art market?s criteria are likely to be just as simplistic and straightforward.
New Report integrates objects typical of feminist art, but actually shines the spotlights on the subject to illustrate the sense of disconnect between the motives attributed to lesbian artists and their true desires. The way they play on social conventions provides them with a humorous backdoor to slip out. For instance, they criticise how the body is seen as the foundation for female identity with their tongue-in-cheek term "pregnant with information".
Even early on in her career, Wynne Greenwood proved her gift for role-playing in her concept-band project "Tracy and the Plastics". Using projected video material, she integrated various characters in her live performances, thereby enabling her to perform on all the featured instruments and do the vocals herself.