Skip navigation

Sue Dodd

Author 
Andrew Frost

Sue Dodd stands in front of a video projection. “Yo-yo diet queens,” she intones over a metronomic, electronic beat provided by a computer operated by her brother Phil. “One minute they’re thin and the next super curvy/Dangerously going on and off diets/They think nothing of starving their way/Into a movie role or red carpet dress… Yo-yo diet queens.” In the background cut-out images of celebrities move around against a candy-striped backdrop, crudely animated by plainly visible hands.  In a live video of Dodd’s Gossippop project, performed at Bus Gallery in 2004, the audience can be heard laughing at the seriousness with which the lyrics are delivered. Ironic, cool, yet strangely compelling, Dodd’s words – lifted from articles found in gossip magazines - recount the tragedies of celebrity culture: drug addiction, failed marriages, cheating boyfriends, massive weight gain, anorexia. 

Dodd’s Gossippop continues the tradition of singspiel [song-play], the German miniature opera and its spoken word delivery of lyrics recounting the travails and high drama of the Romantic ideal. In Dodd’s reworking, the idiom of the spoken word song, a lineage that runs from Kurt Weil and Peggy Lee to Nico and Malcom McLaren, is brought up to date through the culture of The Inside Hollywood Story and New Weekly. All of the high toned traditions of operatic singspiel are present yet twisted into a voyeuristic, contemporary comedy.

Dodd’s use of video explores the form of the pop clip illustrating various Gossippop songs. The production values mix the aesthetics of internet porn and the low budget indie band promo video. Starf**ker [2005] begins with an audio sample of Bill Clinton claiming, “I did not have sex with that woman” as we see Dodd’s legs and backside facing the camera, her upper body stuffed down the side of a bed. As the song kicks in, Dodd’s backside moves up and down in time to the beat. Clad entirely in stockings and panties, the image is an oddly chaste parody of porn. Other videos, such as the clips for Fears for Spears [2003] UR2 Fat [2005] and Love Courtney [2007] reiterate the stylings of the live Gossippop performances. Famous In Shanghai [2006] took a different tack to the notion of celebrity, depicting Sue and Phil Dodd walking in a non-descript street in Shanghai. Preceded by snippets of Chinese television and static, the extremely short video seems to testify to the fact that celebrity is a status that can be assumed as much as it is bestowed. In Sue Dodd’s mind, she is already a star.

 


Date 
b. 1967