The Jodie Foster Archive

Daniel Mudie Cunningham
Fucking Jodie Foster, 1996

Performed at cLUB bENT, Performance Space, Sydney, 21 February 1996
VHS transferred to DVD

In Fucking Jodie Foster celebrity culture and gay activism are lampooned for their obsession with ‘outing’ closeted queer (or seemingly queer) celebrities. Drawing fierce criticism for her role in The Silence of the Lambs (1992), Foster was the target of tabloids and activists who labelled her ‘absolutely queer’. Daniel Mudie Cunningham’s solo performance re-imagines Foster’s 1992 Academy Award acceptance speech for this film, which occurred at a time of intense speculation over her sexuality and accusations of the film’s homophobic subtext. As Cunningham masquerades as a lesbian and accepts the award on Foster’s behalf, he recounts being picked up by Foster (who was dressed as k.d. lang) and their ensuing tryst on a California beach. “Was she finally making a commitment to the cause?” he asks derisively about Foster. The audience’s enthusiastic reception hints at the potency of such an avowal.

Throughout her career Foster has embodied a strong point of resistance to being ‘out’ and ‘outed’. Her determination to remain silent about her sexuality challenges the rhetoric of minority politics that conflate visibility with wider cultural acceptance. Foster has — whether through principle or concern for her career — refused to be co-opted by dominant gay and lesbian culture, and enacts a veritable ‘closeting’ against its codification and commercialisation of sexual identity.

Douglas Crimp has noted how her position has also prompted criticism largely from gay men, revealing the fraught paradigm of conventional identity politics: “Castigating Foster as oppressor both presumes her (closeted) lesbian identity and presumes identity precedes and determines political enactment”.

Text by José Da Silva, Senior Curator, Australian Cinémathèque, Queensland Art Gallery
(Originally published in the catalogue for Oh Industry by Daniel Mudie Cunningham, MOP Projects, 2009).

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“Daniel Mudie Cunningham’s The Jodie Foster Archive is a body of performance and video works that gauge the actor’s sexual and political significance within contemporary culture. Playing upon the appeal and anxieties of her onscreen personas and personal life — Foster has become a contested object of lesbian, feminist and straight desire and an ambivalent image of gender in mainstream cinema — Cunningham’s work takes pleasure


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“Daniel Mudie Cunningham’s The Jodie Foster Archive is a body of performance and video works that gauge the actor’s sexual and political significance within contemporary culture. Playing upon the appeal and anxieties of her onscreen personas and personal life — Foster has become a contested object of lesbian, feminist and straight desire and an ambivalent image of gender in mainstream cinema — Cunningham’s work takes pleasure in the sometimes oppositional points of reception and identification in queer readings of popular culture.”
- Jose Da Silva, Senior Curator, Queensland Art Gallery

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