Cheri Gaulke

Cuts: A Traditional Sculpture is a durational performance resulting in an installation, sildenafil two-channel video, and zine. The work is structured as a dialogue with two seminal performance works, Eleanor Antin’s Carving: A Traditional Sculpture and Lynda Benglis’ 1974 Advertisement.

Rather than crash diet, over five months Heather Cassils built her body by taking male hormones, adhering to a strict bodybuilding regime and controlled diet. She documented her body as it changed, taking 4 photos a day, from 4 vantage points inspired by Antin’s photographic grid. She then collapsed 23 weeks of training into 23 seconds of time-lapsed video juxtaposed against highly stylized scenes which play in painful slow motion Cassils’ training process. Finally, with her body in its peak condition, she staged a photographic homage to Benglis, placing these two important works in dialogue with each other via her exaggerated physique.


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Training photos by Zackary Drucker.
Heather Cassils and Robin Black, Advertisment (Homage to Benglis), 2011.


Heather Cassils’ practice weds her experience as a stunt person and a body builder to the ethos of FLUXUS and guerrilla theater. Her solo physical performances are informed by a decade of working in the collective Toxic Titties, but are grounded in the exploration of the specific possibilities of the body, as both instrument and image. Cassils’ methods are multidisciplinary, combining performance, film, drawing, video, photography, and event planning. Cassils has exhibited at the Whitechapel and Thomas Danes in London; Manifesta, Schnitt Ausstellungsraum, and Edith Ruß Site for Media Art in Germany; the LGBT film festival in Paris, France; the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig in Vienna, Austria; MUCA Roma and International Festival in Rome; Ex-Teresa Arte Actual in Mexico City; Art in General in New York; Art Basel Miami Beach; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco; and LACE and the USC Center for Feminist Research in Los Angeles.
Peep Totter Fly is a new interactive video installation and performance by Cheri Gaulke that revisits the artist’s 1970-80s critique of high heels. The installation will present gallery visitors with a wall of red high heels, for sale
available for wearing while viewing the rest of the exhibition. With sizes large enough for most men and women, this will give viewers an actual experiential challenge to their ideas about high heels. Centered on the wall is an evocative video that depicts high heels traversing natural environments, relating the objects present in the room to live and recorded performance. At the exhibition opening, a group of performers will activate the installation with a performance that ventures into the streets of Hollywood and back again.


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Cheri Gaulke. Broken Shoes, 1978, DTLA, part of Public Spirit performance series.
Gaulke dancing with skeleton puppet with bound feet courtesy of Cheri Gaulke, photographer Sheila Ruth.
Peep, Totter, Fly: Photos from performance at LACE 27 September 2011.

In 1975, Cheri Gaulke moved to Los Angeles to be involved with the Feminist Studio Workshop at the Woman’s Building. There she embraced the notion that feminist art could raise consciousness, invite dialogue, and transform culture. She worked primarily in performance art from 1974 to 1992, addressing themes such as religion, sexual identity, and the environment. Though Gaulke has moved away from performance, the feminist art strategies that she helped to innovate in the 1970s in Southern California continue in her work. Her art continues to be a vehicle for social commentary and a way to tell the stories of individuals and groups under-represented in society. She works in a variety of media, but mostly video, installation, artist’s books, and public art. Gaulke has an MA degree in Feminist Art/Education from Goddard College. She has presented her work at the Museum of Modern Art (NY), the Museum of Contemporary Art (LA), in a Smithsonian-touring exhibition, and in settings all over the world including buses, churches, and prehistoric temples.