Rosey Finger of Dawn

1979

Dir. Tony Oursler, Video Color Sound 00:10:00

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Description

In order to realize his final project at CalArts, Oursler was given short-term access to color video equipment and a loft space that enabled the construction of large-scale sets for fullfigure costumed performers. The plot of the resultant work, Rosey Finger of Dawn (1979), is as disturbing as it is simple: The protagonist, a provincial woman played by the artist in drag, is traversing the borderline that separates country from city (that is, nature from civilization, or innocence from experience) when she is accosted by a man in black who robs her, rapes her, and stabs her to death. As a moral tag to this sad story, an unexplained “phantom shot” is fired, killing the aggressor as well.
In many regards an experiment, Rosey Finger is not without its noteworthy elements, including the thematic use of color motifs to differentiate between the evil, dangerous urban setting and its benevolent rural counterpart, or the sideways construction of the set and placement of the camera to exaggerate an already-grotesque interaction between the assailant and victim. But as a result of the use of real actors, an element of naturalism seems to intrude too strongly upon the graphic representation of this unsavory scenario, and thus Rosey Finger remains Oursler’s most discomforting and problematic work.
[Source: "THE VIDEOTAPES OF TONY OURSLER" by John Minkowsky]