how do you know? (2005)

Les Biens Inc. is a collaborative media project produced by video artist Donna Rae Kessinger. The project cultivates dialogue about the complicated landscape of sexual identity and gender as it relates to personal identity by asking women to respond to the question: HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU ARE A LESBIAN? Comprised of selected digital media portraits of lesbians discussing gender and sexuality. The destination of Les Biens Inc. is multi-pronged: First as a web-based project designed for collecting stories; second as a documentary film. The clips are culled from longer interviews, which will be developed into a documentary and interactive media piece. The project’s mission is to travel to venues that will be conducive to collecting more stories, ranging from art galleries to lesbian bars to international film festivals. The site and the project itself will continue to be a living, breathing organism that has potential to keep growing.

Full Description

The project was developed on the open exploration of the relationship of self and the introspection based on the notions of sexuality and how that affects becoming who we are as people. What makes you a lesbian? How do you know? The dialogue had begun. After each screening there is an opportunity to tell the network how you know. The resulting video segments range from questions of a ‘gay gene’ to wondering if sexual identity could put one ‘in a mental institution’.

Although my work is primarily contextualized as being post feminist in nature, it honestly started with my filming of veteran feminist artist, Kate Millett at her women’s art colony in Poughkeepsie, New York. Armed with only the video basics Dyke TV had to offer. I started by filming my first interview with Kate Millett about her mission of selling Christmas trees, thus supporting the colony. The resulting segment was aired on Manhattan Neighborhood Network as part of Dyke TV, 2000. I ended up returning to the farm to film the daily life of the Millett’s (women only) artist colony. One year later the story developed into the saga of her struggle to keep her loft at 295 Bowery. The digital feature length documentary, No Battle over the Bowery, is currently in rough edit form.

Work metadata

  • Year Created: 2005
  • Submitted to ArtBase: Friday Feb 25th, 2005
  • Original Url:
  • Work Credits:
    • donna kessinger,
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