Dara Birnbaum

Lecture & Dining

Dara Birnbaum (American, born 1946) emerged as a pioneer of video art in the mid-1970s, when many women artists challenged the gender biases of mass media and popular culture. Early on she disrupted and deconstructed the language of television, in order to reveal embedded stereotypes and expectations. Resisting the tendency for video to be limited to being solely as a projection in a darkened space, Birnbaum released video and media artwork from these conditions. Thus becoming one of the first artists to design complex and innovative installations that juxtapose imagery from multiple sources—at times utilizing large-scale photographs, sculptural or architectural elements. For four decades Birnbaum has remained rigorously active in media arts internationally. Her works are among the most influential and innovative contributions to the contemporary discourse on art and television.


Birnbaum has had solo exhibitions at such renowned international museums as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of Art, New York; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and IVAM, Centre del Carme, Valencia. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at the Reina Sofia, Madrid; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Modern Museet, Stockholm; and the Tate Gallery, London, among others. She has been the recipient of various distinguished awards such as The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Arts Residency, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, and the prestigious United States Artists Fellowship. In 1987 she became the first woman in video to have received the Maya Deren Award by the American Film Institute, and in February 2017, Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Art created The Birnbaum Award in her honor.

Dara Birnbaum. Kiss the Girls: Make Them Cry, 1979. Two-channel color video with sounds, 6 min. 26 sec. loop; edition number three of three with two artist’s proofs. Restricted gift of Stephanie Skestos Gabriele. © 1979 Dara Birnbaum.