'4' originated as a collaborative group performance by Jeanette, Carol, Deborah and Annastacia as the S.S. Girls. The performance was produced by Paul Wong and co-sponsored by the Video Inn.
The project details the lives and personalities of the four women as described by one another in the style of a feuding dysfunctional family. The S.S. Girls persona was adopted in 1978, and was based on the tough image cultivated by the group at public events. While offering the term up as an aggressive idiosyncratic fringe-feminist position, “S.S.” also internally referred to the activities of the women, such as Jeanette and Carol’s semi-regular sewing and swimming dates.
The first iteration of '4' was a live-acted multimedia performance that occurred at Western Front in 1980, where the girls read aloud their impressions of one another, accompanied by slides and video. This gritty autobiographical entanglement took shape as it travelled across Canada. 'Mainstreet Inc.' received touring funds as a group from the Canada Council touring program, and generated the tour de '4', which lasted from January 14 to March 14, 1980, with stops at twenty venues across Canada and in the US.
- Jan 14, Western Front, Vancouver
- Jan 19, Nova Gallery, Vancouver
- Jan 6–27 SAW Gallery, Ottawa
- Jan 21, University of Ottawa
- Jan 22, SAW Gallery, Ottawa
- Jan 23, SAW Gallery, Ottawa
- Jan 26, Véhicule, Montreal
- Jan 27, Concordia, Montreal
- Jan 31, St Lawrence College, Kingston
- Jan 31, Kingston Artist Association, Kingston
- Feb 1, Queens University, Kingston
- Feb 14, National Film Board, Ottawa
- Feb 15, ED Video, Guelph
- Feb 18, A Space / Music Gallery / Image Nation, Toronto
- Feb 21, Art Metropole, Toronto
- Feb 23/24, Music Gallery, Toronto
- Feb 26, Ontario College of Art, Toronto
- March 1, Printed Matter, New York City
- March 6/7/8, Artspace, Peterborough
- March 8, Véhicule book launch, Montreal
- March 13, Norman Mackenzie Art Gallery & University of Regina, Saskatchewan
- March 14, University of Regina, Saskatchewan
Following the tour, '4' was adapted into a multi-part video co-starring Paul Wong, with appearances by other artists. The video work adapts the live performance and incorporates fictionalized re-enactments of episodes of the group’s lives together on Main Street. In particular, the video re-stages a petty theft at Abe’s, the second-hand store located across the street from the Mainstreeters 26th and Main Street digs. The project remains as a time capsule of the volatile relationships and lifestyle that characterized this period for the Mainstreeters.
This video is a key work in the later period of Mainstreeter activity that further demonstrates the involved process the group undertook in translating elements of their daily life into works of art. It marks the last time the girls would actively co-create and star in a video.