Head (1993)

Cheryl Donegan ushered in a new era of brash, low-tech performance video. Here she confronts sex, fantasy, and voyeurism in an autoerotic work out performed to pop music, and provides a perfectly choreographed simulation of desire.
The piece is incredibly direct. A woman approaches a green plastic bottle with a plugged spout sticking out from one side. She pulls the plug free, and a white milkish fluid begins to stream through the hole. So she starts to suck at the hole, lick around it. Lick the bottle up and down.



In this image of sexual pleasure and fantasy, Donegan is both subject and object, directing the action and performing for the camera without acknowledging its presence. The role she plays mimics that of a sex industry worker, whose choreographed purr and bounce fake you into believing that what she does feels good.
Donegan studies what pleasure looks like and with Head she delineates just how scripted sex may have become, and how far many of us have traveled from real taste and touch. Head is what pleasure looks like when it turns into illusion.
She also forces us to confront the essential ruse of pornographic imagery: all those women we saw live on celluloid exhibiting insatiable hunger and receptiveness. And they always loved it, always asked for more.

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