Jennifer West is an American artist who has gained international recognition for her exploration of materialism in film. With her vibrant, hypnotic video-collages and the deep, research-based investigation on her medium, she has mastered the abstract language of film and made tangible its poetry. West’s artworks, which remind the virtues vortex of Tony Conrad, Carolee Schneeman and Stan Brakhage, are uninterrupted flows of colors, textures, sounds and diverse hand-applied manipulations. A vocabulary she uses to convey personal narratives that quickly gain the status of universal perceptions. Her words can write many stories. Through the prism of abstraction, the artist delivers the various impressions that lie beyond narratives, pure products of the medium that she heavily endures: the film strip is alternatively painted, cut, burnt, inscribed, walked upon, dragged into salt for years etc. What is secreted by these ribbons after the manipulation is an organic-like substance that seems to act as a synaptic catalyser, opening the viewers sense of self in an immersion of sensations. She challenges the spectators to question the mercurial nature of media in the age of communication.
Her researches on analog films and digital media have been the center of her production. West examines the unpredictable conditions produced by the ability to digitize and circulate from analog to digital. These sometimes camera-less films are not only a prowess of beauty and dexterity in technological terms, but a meta-filmic reflexion on the medium, from the medium.
Jennifer West exhibited widely in museums and art institutions internationally including: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Nottingham Contemporary, UK; Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt; CAPC, Bordeaux, France; Drawing Center, New York and ZKM Museum for New Media, Karlsruhe. West produced commission for Turbine Hall at Tate Modern and recently presented solo shows at Yuz Museum, Shanghai, China; “Action Movies, Painted Films and History Collage” at Man Museum, Nouro, Sardinia, Italy; “Film is Dead…” at Seattle Art Museum; and “Flashlight Filmstrip Projections” at Tramway, Glasgow, Scotland. Her work is also in major museum and public art collections such as at the Saatchi Collection in London and the LACMA in Los Angeles. West will be presenting her installation “Film is Dead…” at the Yuz Museum in Shanghai this November and has a solo exhibition at JOAN, Los Angeles in February 2020.
The three video works presenting for this session illustrate West’s exploration on the nature of the film medium and its potential for creation with and without narrative.