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Five of Swords  



In a year-long process, Clark and five other women developed material for a performance and video project exploring the forces that lead so many women in professional and business classes to bitterness. The words spoken by the performers were appropriated from both “high” and popular cultural sources and linked together in an episodic, juxtapositional manner, rather than in a traditional narrative. The Five of Swords card in the Tarot deck indicates a “protracted struggle,” and the performance combined tableaux, dramatic scenes, and object manipulation (including extended physical play with five swords) to enact and examine the struggle of women advancing within historically male environs. The five performers, ranging in age from nineteen to fifty-nine, were engaged in a process of questioning and the performance was in some sense simply a continuation of that process in the presence of an audience. The video FIVE OF SWORDS is not performance documentation but an adaptation of the material, recorded in a studio setting and re-configured for video.



Randolph Street Gallery, Chicago, IL

Cleveland Public Theatre Performance Art Festival, Cleveland, OH

Walker’s Point Center for the Arts, Milwaukee, WI



Big Muddy Film Festival, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL

Feedback, CAN TV19, Chicago, IL

Hometown U.S.A., National Federation of Local Cable Programmers, Tampa, FL

In re/deference to Power, Natasha Nicholson Works of Art, Madison, WI

Kansas City International Video Festival, Kansas City, MO

The Circle’s Edge, Winona Art Center, Winona, MN

The Circle’s Edge, Mount Senario College, Ladysmith, WI

Wisconsin Media Alliance Film & Video Exhibition, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies Conference, Milwaukee, WI

Wisconsin Media Artists Showcase, Great Lakes Film and Video, Milwaukee, WI

Women’s Caucus for the Arts, Women’s Studies Program,

University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

WYOU Cable 4, Madison, WI



High Visibility


Artists Pursue Elusive Power, Wisconsin State Journal

Performance Futures, Art Muscle

Photo, Chicago Reader


Developed with Charlotte Cummings, Jinx Davis, Wendy Nelson, and Lois Nowicki

Performed by Sarah Breckenridge, Charlotte Cummings, Denise Myers, Wendy Nelson,

and Lois Nowicki

Technical Support from Cherie Barnes, Dalida Maria Benfield, Beatrice Bosco, Rosemary Bodolay, Linda James, Liz Loring, Diane Merfeld, Susan McElhaney, Patricia Ohanian,

Clark Thompson



Arts Matters, Inc.

Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission

Experimental Television Center

Wisconsin Arts Board

University of Wisconsin



Video, 6 Minutes


Slide Lecture

Exhibition of B&W Photographs and Artifacts

Five of Swords Photos
Five of Swords Video
Five of Swords Press


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