Aptly described as a media bricoleur, Ahwesh’s work combines a variety of experimental narrative and documentary genres, often with improvisational performance. Utilizing found footage, noise, the arcane and a variety of obsolete, low end technologies Ahwesh’s work is primarily an investigation of cultural identity and the role of the female subject.  Ahwesh’s practice insists on political and social topicality, handled with theoretical rigor, while at the same time using humor and the absurd in an open embrace of the inexplicable.  Subjective experiences of the individual, the mundane and discourses of non-closure are subjects of her work. Feminist theory and film theory are applied to traditionally female-gendered themes-home movies, family drama, relationships and confessions-while turning the conventions of realism on end.

Peggy Ahwesh came of age in the 1970’s with Super 8mm amateur filmmaking, feminism and the punk underground in Pittsburgh. She is a graduate of Antioch College.  Currently, Ahwesh is Chair of the Film & Electronic Arts Program at Bard College. Her film and video work is distributed by EAI, New York and Lightcone, Paris.  Ahwesh’s films Martina’s Playhouse (1989), The Deadman (made with Keith Sanborn, 1989), Strange Weather (1993) and Nocturne(1998) are in the permanent collection of the MOMA. Ahwesh has received grants from the Jerome, Creative Capital and Guggenheim Foundations and NYSCA.  In 2000 she received the Alpert Award for film/video.

Peggy Ahwesh
Born 1954, Pittsburgh, PA


B.F.A., Antioch College, OH


Inside Circle, Microscope Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
The Super 80’s, Mass College of Art, Boston, MA
Talk American, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL
New Queer Cinema, screening of Martina’s Playhouse, BAM, Brooklyn, NY
TMI. Too Much Information, C/O Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Color Films, Gallery 400, Chicago, IL
Surrealist Cinema: Performance and Montage, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art< Los Angeles, CA
Game On / Re-Newing Media Art, The Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork, Ireland

Return to the Garden, Virginia Museum of Art
New York Film Festival, Views of the Avant Garde, screened The Ape of Nature

The Private Glance, Tate Modern, London

Laugh My Darling, Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain
Ape of Nature, James Gallery, NYC

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia; Madrid, Spain (retrospective)
American Univeristy of Beirut; Beirut, Lebanon
Anthology Film Archives; NY, NY (theatrical run, Certain Women)
“Ahwesh: Personal Archive Show”, Anthology Film Archives; NY, NY

Wisconsin Film Festival; Madison, WI (retrospective)
femme totale; Dortmund, Germany (screening & panel)
University of Chicago, Film Studies Center; Chicago, Il

Rotterdam International Film Festival; Rotterdam, The Netherlands
The Museum of Modern Art, Mediascope; New York, NY
New York Underground Film Festival; New York, NY (traveled)
Institute for Studies in the Arts, ASU; Tempe, Arizona
“Videos by Peggy Ahwesh”, Terrorvision Show, Exit Art; New York, NY
Redcat Theater, California Institute for the Arts; Valencia, CA (residency)
Chicago Underground Film Festival; Chicago, IL
Brighton Cinematheque; Brighton, UK
Zinebi 46 Festival; Bilbao, Spain
Cinematexas 10; Austin, TX
Union Theater, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Milwaukee, WI

Mills College Art Museum, Contemporary Exhibitions; Oakland, CA
Pixil This 12; LA, CA
Princeton University; Princeton, NJ
Binghamton University; Binghamton, NY

“Sandbox Antics, Tantrums, and Tourist Attractions”, Pittsburgh Filmmakers and Carnegie Mellon University; Pittsburgh, PA (retrospective)
New Collaborations: Electronic Intersections, Institute for Electronic Arts, School of Artand Design, Alfred University; Alfred, NY (conference)

California Institute for the Arts; Valencia, CA (screenings/residency)
Sam Spiegel Film School; Jerusalem, Israel (screenings/residency)
The Jerusalem Cinematheque; Jerusalem, Israel
Women Direct, Ithaca College; Ithaca, NY (screening & conference)
“All the Girls with Cameras in Their Heads”, Cinematexas 6;Austin, TX (retrospective)

The Flaherty Seminar, International Film Seminars, NY (curator Kathy Geritz)
The American Century: Art & Culture (1950-2000),
Whitney Museum of American Art; New York, NY

The Guggenheim Museum; NY (lecture)
LUX Cinema; London, England (retrospective)
Warhol’s Grave, The Balie Theater; Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The Grand Illusion Cinema/Wiggly World; Seattle, WA
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts; SF, CA (residency/retrospective)
Splice This!, S8mm Film Festival; Toronto, Canada (retrospective)
Three by Peggy Ahwesh, Anthology Film Archives; NY
Nocturne and What!, Pacific Film Archive; Berkeley, CA
Criminal Sexuality: The Films of Peggy Ahwesh, Pacific Cinematheque;
Vancouver, Canada (retrospective)

S8mm Films by Peggy Ahwesh, MoMA; NY
The Secret Charts, Jonctions Festival; Brussels, Belgium (installation w Amy Sillman)
Girls Beware! (reprise), Jonctions Festival 2; Brussels, Belgium

Girls Beware!, New American Film & Video Series, Whitney Museum of American Art; NY (retrospective)
Subtle Subversions: The Films of Peggy Ahwesh, Chicago Filmmakers; Chicago, IL
Low Tech, Museu d’Art Contemporani Barcelona; Barcelona, Spain

Vermont College, MFA Program; Montpelier, VT (visiting artist)
Cinema Studies Program, NYU; New York, NY
Open Zone: Interactive Phenomena & Quicktime; Barcelona, Spain (traveled)

University of South Florida; Tampa, FL (visiting artist)
The Films of Peggy Ahwesh, Pacific Film Archives; Berkeley, CA
Odd and Original: Sexploitation Films by Doris Wishman, Roxy Theater & the Other Cinema; San Francisco,CA (curator)

Harvard Film Archive, Carpenter Center for the Arts; Cambridge, MA (retrospective)
American Museum of the Moving Image; Queens, NY
Anthology Film Archives; New York, NY
World Wide Video Festival; The Hague, The Netherlands

Video Premiers, Museum of Modern Art; NY (w Margie Strosser)
Juger und Sammler: Die Neuen Nomaden, Eiszeit Kino; Berlin, Germany
Strange Paradises, The Cinematheque; San Francisco, CA
The Opium Den at The Pleasure Dome at Cine Cycle; Toronto, Canada

Sarah Lawrence College; Bronxville, NY
sex/POSITIVE; Philadelphia, PA (conference/screening)
University of Florida, a Critical Art Ensemble project; Tallahassee, FL
Coming Soon, American Culture & Popular Culture Associations Annual Conference; Louisville, KY (w Keith Sanborn)

The Wexner Center; Columbus, OH
Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center; Buffalo, NY

Cineprobe, MoMA; NY
The Carnegie Museum of Art; Pittsburgh, PA
The Pittsburgh Filmmakers; Pittsburgh, PA
In Bataille’s Dark Chamber, The Collective for Living Cinema; NY (w Keith Sanborn)
“Child”, Kitchen Center for Video, Music & Performance; NY (panel/screening)
Image Film and Video Center; Atlanta, GA
Anti-Censorship Fest, Coalition for Freedom of Expression; Berkeley, CA
The London International Film Festival; London, England
The Pleasure Dome; Toronto, Canada

In Bataille’s Dark Chamber, Small Press Distribution Center; Berkeley (w Keith Sanborn)
Old & New Masters of Super 8, Anthology Film Archives; NY
The Collective for Living Cinema; New York
Massachusetts College of Art; Boston, MA

Film Forum; Los Angeles, CA
The Cinematheque; San Francisco, CA
Super 8mm: The Last Frontier, Currier Gallery of Art; Hanover, NH

Women’s Caucus for Art, National Conference; Boston, MA
Super 8 Motel, The Kitchen Center; NY
Women in Film, William Penn Museum; Harrisburg, PA
Eiszeit Kino; Berlin, Germany

Nicolas Rapold, “Top Forms”, Art Forum, June 4, 2010
Ahwesh, Peggy. “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.” Film Comment 37 (July/August 2001) p 77.
Arthur, Paul. “Bodies, Language and the Impeachment of Vision: American Avant-garde Film at 50” Persistence of Vision No. 11 (1995) CUNY
Dargis, Manohla. “On The Deadman.” Artforum, 28 (May 1990) pp. 29-30.
Gangitano, Lia. “Warhol’s Grave”, In Steve Reinke and Tom Taylor, ed. LUX: A Decade of Artists Film and Video. XYZ Books, Toronto (2000) pp. 306-11.
Griffin, Tim. “Bury the Lead”, World Art, no. 16 (1998) pp. 22 – 25.
Gunning, Tom “Towards a Minor Cinema: Fonoroff, Herwitz, Ahwesh, Klahr, Lapore and Solomon” Motion Picture 3 (winter 89-90) pp 2-5.
Handelman, Michelle. “Women’s Studies” Filmmaker Magazine (Winter 2002) p 12.
Iles, Chrissie “Biennial 2002 Exhibition Catalogue”, Whitney Museum of American Art
Jones, Kristin M. “Ahwesh at the Whitney.” Artforum 36 (Nov 1997) pp. 118-119.
Marks, Laura U. “Loving a Disappearing Image” Cinéma et Mélancolie Vol 8, no. 1-2, Québec (1999), pp 93-111.
MacDonald, Scott, A Critical Cinema 5: Interviews with Independent Filmmakers, University of California Press, 2006.
Russell, Catherine. “Culture as Fiction: The Ethnographic Impulse in the Films of Peggy Ahwesh, Su
Friedrich, and Leslie Thornton.” In Jon Lewis, ed. The New American Cinema. Durham & London: Duke University Press (1998) pp. 353-78.
Smith, Gavin. “The Way of All Flesh.” Film Comment 31 (July/August 1995) p. 18.
Taubin, Amy. “Women on Top” The Village Voice (August 5, 1997) p. 74.
Wees, William C. “The Color of Love and the Recycling of Pornography by Avant-Garde Filmmakers” FSAC Conference, Université Laval, May 2001. conference paper.
Wees, William C. “Peggy’s Playhouse: Contesting the Modernist Paradigm”, Women’s Experimental
Cinema: Critical Frameworks , Ed. Robin Blaetz, Duke University Press, 2006.

Bard College Research Grant, 2002
Creative Capital, 2002
Alpert Award in the Arts, Cal Arts/Alpert Foundation 2000
New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), Video Fellowship 2000
New York Foundation for the Arts (NYSCA), Film/Video Fellowship 1993, 2002
New York Foundation for the Arts (NYSCA), Distribution Grant 1992, 1999
Guggenheim Foundation, Fellowship 1996
Jerome Foundation, Film Project Award 1990, 1998
Art Matters, 1992, 1995

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