Los Angeles-based artist Jennifer West grew up in Topanga Canyon in the 1970s before spending her college years in Seattle and Olympia during the early years of the Riot Grrrl and grunge movements. Inspired by West Coast subcultures, her organic films and printouts depict surfers, beach parties or natural phenomena that she captures on 16, 35 or 70 mm film before damaging its surface with the use of bodily, cosmetic or culinary fluids, thereby pushing the manipulation of celluloid film to the level of performance. The emulsion can be combined with perfume, alcohol, mascara, or pepper spray; the film can be scratched by a skateboard, kissed, or dragged in tar. She then uses this altered prime material to create projections of photographic prints, producing a sublime visceral action.
Nirvana Alchemy Film (16mm black & white film soaked in lithium mineral hot springs, pennyroyal tea, doused in mud, sopped in bleach, cherry antacid and laxatives – jumping by Finn West & Jwest), 2007, 2 minutes, 51 seconds, 16mm film negative transferred to digital video. [Courtesy of the artist and MARC FOXX, Los Angeles]
In PARIS, LA #10, Jennifer West talks with curator and writer Martha Kirszenbaum about filmmaking, her artistic process, and her roots as a native Californian growing up with hippie parents on the coast. West’s exhibition ‘One Mile Film’ was recently on view at Marc Foxx gallery in Los Angeles in January, 2014.
Portrait of Jennifer West [photo by Martha Kirszenbaum]