A Spy in the House that Ruth Built

A film by Vanalyne Green

1989 | 29 minutes | Color | DVD | Order No. 99012


Vanalyne Green appropriates the all-male arena of professional baseball to create a visual essay about family, loss, and sexuality. Confronted with such a strange wonderland, devoid of women, Green is compelled to reinterpret baseball's symbolism-its womb-like landscape, cycles, and rituals-to construct an iconography that pays homage to the female. With humor and irony, Green creates a film that is both a personal revelation and a heretical portrait of America's national past-time.


"A startling, brave work. Her completely fresh perspective turns up angles and under-bellies of the game-mythic, banal, funny, painful-undreamed of in the stands."

Peter Schjeldahl 7 Days


  • AFI National Video Festival
  • Atlanta Film and Video Festival, Best Experimental Video
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • USA Film Festival Short Film and Video Competition, First Place, Experimental


Vanalyne Green

Vanalyne Green (born 1948) is an American artist who also teaches and writes about culture. She has screened her video work extensively in the United States and abroad, including The Whitney Biennial (1991), American Film Institute, Rotterdam International Film Festival, the Videotheque de Paris, The Robert Flaherty Film Seminar, The Guggenheim Museum and many other museums, universities and film festivals. She has received a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, as well as grants from Creative Capital, the Jerome Foundation, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation (2003), the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council of the Arts, and a Rome Prize at the American Academy in Rome (2001–2002). Her work has been covered in the Village Voice, the Los Angeles Weekly, The Chicago Reader, and Artforum. Publications by and about, and interviews with, Green also can be found in "Performance Artists Talking in the Eighties" by Linda M. Montano, "Women of Vision" by Alexandra Juhasz, in addition to M/E/A/N/I/N/G: An Anthology of Artists' Writings, Theory, and Criticism. Green's videotape A SPY IN THE HOUSE THAT RUTH BUILT was listed as one of the 1,000 best films ever made by film critic and author Jonathan Rosenbaum.

Vanalyne Green studied art at Fresno State University in the first feminist art program started by Judy Chicago and then at California Institute of the Arts with Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, where she earned a BFA degree in 1974. Green was a member of the Feminist Art Workers (along with Cheri Gaulke, Nancy Angelo, Laurel Klick, and Candace Compton), a performance art group based in Los Angeles and often associated with the Woman's Building. In New York, she was a founding member of the pro-choice, pro-sex agit-prop group No More Nice Girls. And later in Chicago, Green was a founding member of the collaborative group Feel Tank Chicago.

Green was appointed a Professor of Fine Art at the University of Leeds in 2004. (8/14)

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