Nancy Buchanan is a Los Angeles-based artist best known for her work in installation, performance, and video art. She played a central role in the feminist art movement in Los Angeles in the 1970s.
Since the 1970s, Buchanan has made videos and performances that combine the personal and the political. Buchanan, like other feminist artists of the period (including Eleanor Antin, Martha Rosler, and Barbara T. Smith) “began incorporating fictional, political, or autobiographical narrative into their work, drawing on genres of mass media that could not successfully have been referenced by ‘serious’ art even a few years earlier.”
Buchanan’s early videos disrupt representational stereotypes through a feminist critique of formulaic narrative genres. Many of her later works document and critique insidious operations of political and corporate power, often with a wry sense of humor. Her video polemics of the 1980s and 1990s address such issues as government-sponsored fear tactics underpinning nuclear proliferation, American interventionist foreign policy in Latin America, and the role of exploitative real-estate speculation in the failure of the American dream.
Buchanan was a producer of Close Radio along with Paul McCarthy and John Duncan.
Andra Darlington writes in From California Video: Artists and Histories:
Nancy Buchanan began using video as a natural extension of performance and installation in the late 1970s and has continued experimenting with new media throughout her career. Her work explores the spaces between political essay, poetry, and performance. Video’s reproducibility and its capacity for broad distribution have enabled Buchanan to disseminate her message outiside the mainstream art establishment to a wider audience.
Buchanan was a founding member of several art organizations, including F Space Gallery in Santa Ana, CA;Grandview Galleries at the Woman’s Building in Los Angeles; Double X, a feminist art collective (with artists including Merion Estes and Nancy Youdelman); Close Radio; and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE). Currently, she is a member of The LA ArtGirls and The Artists Formerly Known As Women.