Sat. November 5, 8pm
Dolls – red or black; capsules or tablets; washed down with vodka or swallowed straight. For Anne, Neely and Jennifer, it doesn’t matter, as long as the pill bottle is within easy reach. These three beautiful women become best friends when they are young and in New York, struggling to make their names in the entertainment industry. Only when they reach the peak of their careers do they find there’s nowhere left to go but down – to the Valley of the Dolls.
Based on the cult bestselling novel by Jacqueline Susann published in 1966, Valley of the Dolls (dir. Mark Robson, 1967) is a classic melodrama which exposes the less glamorous side of Hollywood life. Three ambitious young women (played by Patty Duke, Barbara Parkins and Sharon Tate) strive for success in show business, but ultimately get caught up in the seedy underside of the celebrity lifestyle: connivances and contrivances, ego and exploitation, alcohol and pills. Upon its release, the film was considered shocking, and it remains a pertinent critique of the pitfalls of fame and fortune.
Valley of the Dolls has been selected by New York City-based cartoonist Katie Skelly in a continuation of a project devised by curator Ben Crothers which sees cartoonists design new posters for films which have inspired or influenced their practices. Skelly is at the forefront of contemporary comics, with works including Nurse Nurse (Sparkplug Books, 2012), Operation Margarine (AdHouse Books, 2014), and the ongoing My Pretty Vampire (which will be collected and published by Fantagraphics in 2017). Since 2013, she has created comics for the sex-positive site, Slutist, including Agent 8, 9, and 10. She has also written and lectured about comics for outlets such as The Comics Journal, Fantagraphics, Japan Society, The Center for Cartoon Studies, Fordham University, and The New School, and co-hosts the podcast Trash Twins with fellow cartoonist Sarah Horrocks. Skelly holds a B.A. in Art History from Syracuse University, and was awarded the Emerging Artist Prize at Cartoon Crossroads Columbus in 2015.
The screening will be preceded by a Q&A between Ben Crothers and Katie Skelly, and the specially-commissioned Valley of the Dolls poster will be available in limited quantities exclusively from SOHO20 on the evening of the event.
Belfast-based Ben Crothers holds an MA in Art History and Film Theory from the University of Essex, England, and has curated projects and exhibitions locally and internationally at venues including Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, Ex Elettrofonica, Rome, and Spectacle, Brooklyn. With a particular interest in video, performance, comics and artists’ books, Ben was the 2014/15 recipient of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s ACES Award for Curatorial Practice, developing his research in collaboration with NURTUREart, Brooklyn. Ben completed a curatorial residency at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum in Columbus, Ohio, in June 2016, and is currently the curator of the Naughton Gallery at Queen’s University Belfast. www.atticusandalgernon.com
Katie Skelly: Valley of the Dolls has been generously supported by the Naughton Gallery at Queen’s University Belfast and British Council Northern Ireland. Special thanks to Rachel Steinberg, Director of SOHO20. Previous editions of this project have featured Charles Forsman and Lale Westvind in collaboration with Comic Arts Brooklyn and Spectacle Theater.