Offsite Projects Archive

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  • Big Screen Commission
    Jennifer West
  • 12 April to 12 July 2014
  • Public Screen, Elmer Square

As part of a series of temporary commissions on the Public Screen in Elmer Square, Southend-on-Sea, Focal Point Gallery is pleased to present the first UK showing of two new film works by Californian artist Jennifer West.

The artist, who for over ten years, has gained international recognition for her explorations of materialism in film, will present two works for this commission, Spiral of Time Documentary Film 2013, and Salt Crystals Spiral Jetty Dead Sea Five Year Film 2013 [full titles below]; both continue her use of a broad range of materials to physically alter the surface of celluloid film. As with many of her works, the subsequent list of materials used is developed into the core of the film’s title.

These recent projects further develop West’s experimentation with trace, but move her work into the sphere of documentary. In Spiral of Time Documentary Film, sections of text from the experimental French film San Soleil, (1983), an innovative essay-film directed by Chris Marker, flash across the frame. Marker’s interest in time and place is then extended by the artist’s positioning of these textual excerpts alongside clips of the land artist Robert Smithson’s iconic Spiral Jetty (1970), which West has filmed from Google Maps on her computer screen.

This dialogue between analogue and digital processes, and material degradation, results in a psychedelic, dynamic morphing of the image, formed by the exposing of the

16mm film to substances including shrimp brine, lemon juice, vinegar and fluorescent hair dye.
<br/> In Salt Crystals Spiral Jetty Dead Sea Five Year Film, the frame tracks the erosion of a 70mm length of film which the artist submerged in the Dead Sea and then left in mud and salt in a studio, for five years. West then took the degenerating matter to Utah, where it was submerged once again; this time, in the pink waters of Smithson’s Jetty. Each frame was subsequently digitally photographed and edited into this 54 second film. The films will be launched with an opening event at Focal Point Gallery on Saturday 12 April, 6pm to 8pm.

Full work titles:

Spiral of Time Documentary Film (16mm negative strobe-light double and triple exposed - painted with brine shrimp - dripped, splattered and sprayed with salted liquids: balsamic and red wine vinegar, lemon and lime juice, temporary flourescent hair dyes - photos from friends Mark Titchner, Karen Russo, Aaron Moulton and Ignacio Uriarte and some google maps- texts by Jwest and Chris Markers' Sans Soleil script -shot by Peter West, strobed by Jwest, hands by Ariel West, telecine by Tom Sartori)

16mm negative transferred to high-definition

Commissioned by Utah Museum of Contemporary Art

Salt Crystals Spiral Jetty Dead Sea Five Year Film (70mm film negative floated in the Dead Sea and given a healing clay bath in extreme heat in 2008 - stuffed in a suitcase, placed in studio buckets, covered in clay and salt for five years - dragged along the salt encrusted rocks of the Spiral Jetty and thrown in the pink waters in 2013 in below 10 degree weather - Dead Sea floating and mud baths by Mark Titchner, Karen Russo and Jwest - Spiral Jetty dragging and rolling by Aaron Moulton, Ignacio Uriarte and Jwest - DIY telecine frame by frame of salt covered film by Chris Hanke)

70mm film negative transferred to high-definition

Commissioned by the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art

About the artist:

Jennifer West was born in Topanga, California and lives and works in Los Angeles. Her work has been exhibited at institutions including: Vdrome (2014); High Line Art, New York, NY (2012); S1 Artspace, Sheffield, England (2012); Contemporary Art Museum, Houston (2010); Western Bridge, Seattle (2010); Kunstverein Nuremberg, Nuremberg, Germany (2010); Transmission Gallery, Glasgow (2008); The Aspen Art Museum (2010), Turbine Hall at TATE Modern (2009); White Columns, New York (2007).