Sadie Benning is a video maker, visual artist, and musician.
She first made her name in the early 1990s as a teenage video maker from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Raised by her mother in inner-city Milwaukee, Benning left school at age 16, primarily due to the homophobia she experienced. Her earliest works, made from the time she was 15, were shot with the Fisher-Price Pixelvision camera, which recorded pixelated, black and white video images onto standard audio cassettes. The Fischer-Price PXL-2000 camera used in her early works that brought her to the spotlight was a Christmas gift from her father, experimental filmmaker James Benning. At first Sadie was standoffish to the PixelVision camera. "I thought, 'This is a piece of shit. It's black-and-white. It's for kids. He'd told me I was getting this surprise. I was expecting a camcorder." The majority of her shorts combined performance, experimental narrative, handwriting, and cut-up music to explore, among other subjects, gender and sexuality. Her work was twice included in the Whitney Biennial.
Sadieâ€™s earlier videos, A New Year, Living Inside, Me and Rubyfruit, Jollies, and If Every Girl Had a Diary all use Benningâ€™s isolated surroundings and the effect this had on her as the main focus. In her earliest work, A New Year Sadie shies away from the front of the camera, using her surroundings - primarily the confines of her room and her bedroom window - to portray her feelings of angst, confusion and alienation. Sadie said in an interview, â€œI donâ€™t talk, Iâ€™m not physically in it, itâ€™s all handwritten text, music; I wanted to substitute objects, things that were around me, to illustrate the events. I used objects in the closest proximity â€“ the television, toys, my dog, whateverâ€