"Generally speaking, my work is concerned with cultural regimentation and assimilation as it relates to the codification of behavior. The performers in my pieces are the true ‘media,’ and watching them transcend or transform against or through the various restraints imposed by the work is its broader social metaphor."

Catherine Sullivan has referred to her work as “an anthropology of theater,” making, as she does, single and multi channel video installations which rest upon the body’s capacity to signify and audience’s ability to read the transmission of expressive performative content. Using the theater as a site of emotional transcendence, and examining theatrical conventions as a means to question the politics of artifice, the presentation of violence, and trauma, Sullivan employs rigorous compositional armature which grounds the work’s compelling beauty. Her animation of problems—failed theatricality, the super theatrical, spectatorial discomfort—reveal Sullivan’s own cultural inheritance (Richard Foreman, Chantal Akerman, Bruce Nauman, Yvonne Rainer, Jean-Luc Goddard…) and manifest her twined political and poetic concerns. Restaging a scene in The Miracle Worker, the 1962 film about Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan, she unleashes ten Annie’s and ten Helen’s performing multiple theatrical tropes—the hysteric, melancholic, manic, paranoiac—making acting both problematic and visible.

Born 1968, Los Angeles
Lives in Los Angeles
1997 M.F.A., Art Center College of Design
1992 B.F.A., California Institute of the Arts


2003 Speech Model from ‘The Flies’, Fruits of Crime, Goose Fair, (with Lisa Lapinski), Galerie Mezzanin, Vienna, Austria
2003 ‘Tis Pity She’s a Fluxus Whore, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT; Traveled
2002 Five Economies (big hunt/little hunt), Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago; Traveled; Catalogue
2001 Unspoken Evil III—Rites of Ascension and Obscurity, Galerie Catherine Bastide, Brussels
2001 Gestus Maximus (Gold Standard), Galerie Christian Nagel, Cologne, Germany

2003 Lyon Manifestation, Opera De Lyon, France, in conjunction with Le Biennale d’art contemporain de Lyon, and in conjunction with the festival “Nouvelles Scènes” presented by Le Consortium Art Center, Dijon, France
2003 Wadsworth Manifestation, Presented in conjunction with the exhibition ‘Tis Pity She’s a Fluxus Whore, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Aetna Auditorium
2002 Gold Standard (Canetti/Gibson Infusion), Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Catherine Sullivan: Five Economies (big hunt/little hunt), UCLA Armand Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago
2001 Grisly Notes and Tones, Presented by Le Consortium Art Center, Dijon, France, as part of the annual festival “Nouvelles Scènes”
1998 Let the Right Be a Vision of the Left, Trapdoor Theatre, Chicago
1997 Dad’s Ham, Trapdoor Theatre, Chicago
1995 Unspoken Evil I, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena

2001 Gold Standard (hysteric, melancholic, degraded, refined), Date Palm Dance, Unspoken Evil III—Rites of Ascension and Obscurity, Kunstverein Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
1999 Chirologic Remedy, Galerie Christian Nagel, Cologne, Germany; Traveled
1996 Unspoken Evil II, Three Day Weekend, Los Angeles

2004 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
2003 Biennale d’art contemporain de Lyon, Lyon, France
2003 Baja to Vancouver, Vancouver Art Gallery Vancouver, Canada
2003 Works on Paper, Richard Telles Fine Art, Los Angeles
2003 Thyssen-Bornemisza Foundation in Contemporary Art, Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik, Croatia
2002 Crisp, Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York
2000 L.A.-ex, Museum Villa Stuck, Munich, Germany
1998 Still and Otherwise, Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles
1998 Lines of Sight, The California Aqueduct, Lancaster, California

2004 Jana, Reena. The Ambiguity of Vision, Tema Celeste (March/April)
2003 Sundell, Margaret. Repeat Performance, The Art of Catherine Sullivan, Art Forum International (October)
2002 Yood, James. Catherine Sullivan/Renaissance Society, Art Forum International (September)
2000 Sullivan, Catherine. Through the Scattered Glances, Spring Journal (Volume 1)
1998 Hall, Alexis, Catherine Sullivan, and Benjamin Weissman, eds. The Red Perils of Voluminous Green Asteroid Impaired: Righteous American Fiction, Vol. I. Pasadena, California: Art Center College of Design