Persimmon Blackbridge

female
Born
1951
in
Philadelphia
Canada
CA
Lives in
Vancouver , BC
Canada
British Columbia CA
Biography

Interdisciplinary artist, performer, actor, video maker. Blackbridge’s pioneering contribution to queer video in Canada began with Still Sane (dir. Brenda Ingratta and Lidia Patriasz, Vancouver, 1984, 60), a video version of Blackbridge’s 1984 Vancouver sculpture show together with Sheila Gilhooly, inspired by the latter’s three-year psychiatric incarceration in the seventies. Blackbridge’s ceramic sculptures of Gilhooly’s tortured and ultimately triumphant body are inscribed with diary entries. The video adaptation of these three-dimensional forms and words created a new work, a stunning survival narrative that reached an international crossover audience, in conjunction with the book version (1985). This important early tape confirmed the essential role that both the genre of autobiography and format of video would play within lesbian culture and queer communities. Gilhooly and the sculptures would reappear in Margaret Wescott’s NFB epic Stolen Moments (1997). In the 1990s, Blackbridge was most visible as leading member of the Lesbian sex/art collective Kiss and Tell (others were Lizard Jones, b. 1961, and Susan Stewart, b. 1952). Their touring erotic arts exhibition “Drawing the Line” helped turn the tide in the feminist sex wars—pro artistic sexual expression, anti-censorship (the video version of Drawing the Line was by Lorna Boschman, 1992). In the same vein, Kiss and Tell’s groundbreaking exhibition “True Inversions,” presented at the Banff Centre in 1992 sparked a confrontation in the Alberta political environment around arts funding and freedom of expression (Gilbert, ed. 1999). In the video version also by Boschman (1992), crammed with the event’s carnivalesque swings, costumes, and makeup, as well as delirious couplings, vocal performances and political analysis, Blackbridge preserved her legendary “in-your-crotch” performance for posterity. Blackbridge also acted in Boschman’s child abuse narrative Family Secrets (Five Feminist Minutes, 1990), and co-directed her Sunnybrook (1995). Kiss and Tell published a book-format elaboration of the issues raised in their work: Her Tongue on My Theory: Images, Essays and Fantasies (1994).