Letter to a missing woman (color, 4 minutes, 1999) combines documentary "truth" and fiction in a "crazy letter" to a "missing woman" -- based partly on memories of someone who has been a fugitive for 17 years, and partly on an imaginative reconstruction, through an examination of public documents and private history. The"letter" is a kind of one-sided conversation across the space of many years, a futile attempt to bridge two wildly divergent paths.

The text is a prose poem which I originally wrote in 1996 as part of an installation titled Moving out. The video was begun in 1998 as one of three channels in a new (untitled) video/audio installation exhibited as a continuous loop. In 1999, I finished it as a one-channel piece.

To view four short excerpts from the tape, click below on the first four frames from the tape:

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Mary Patten is a visual artist, videomaker, writer, and political activist. She teaches in the Video/Film Department of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Recent exhibitions include "The Colour of Friendship: Kritische Koalitionen, empfindsame Freundschaften, quere Verbindungen," at the Shedhalle in Zürich, Switzerland; "Site Works," at Gallery 312, and "Agitator," Glass Curtain Gallery, both in Chicago. Letter to a Missing Woman is part of Women in the Director's Chair's 2000-2001 National Touring Program. Several of her installations are featured and discussed in Harmony Hammond's new book, Lesbian Art in America (Rizzoli International Publishers, 2000), and a new photo-text piece is included in the forthcoming issue of WhiteWalls. She is also organizing a panel for the College Art Association's 2001 Annual Conference, "nets/screens/projections/dreams: film, video art, & digital movies."