Jenny Keane

My practice is focused on the word ‘horrific’. Through video installation and performative drawings, the work explores the self-portrait in an attempt to investigate the dichotomy between fear and desire, its relationship to language and connection to the (female) body. Abjection and the Uncanny have been very influential in my practice, as has Feminist thought as well as theories of language and psychoanalysis. My work has always had references to contemporary visual culture, and the most important influence is society’s fascination with fear and its artistic expression in horror films. The theorist Barbara Creed discusses the horror film as ‘constantly restaging the threat and rejection of the feminine.’ Images of blood, vomit, faeces, hair, etc. are central to our socially constructed notions of the horrific. Both my video installations and drawings are focused on ‘liminality’ and the idea of compulsive repetition; a pause or loop that subverts narrative. This repeating becomes a play between an internalised traumatic event and a sensual meditation.


‘The Lick Drawings’ are a series of twenty new drawings that I have been working on. I am interested in representations of the ‘horrific’. I drew stills taken from (mostly) mainstream horror films, as I am interested in the relationship between fear and desire. Developing on from my previous art practice of the mouth as a source of both desire and disgust, I began to lick the horrific element in the image to remove it. The licking evokes ideas surrounding ingestion, language, the body, and (alternative) female sexuality. The pressure of licking causes my tongue to bleed. As you can see in the images, the blood creates an orangey-red tinge at each licked section. By licking the drawing, I am in a way attempting to ‘help’ the image by removing its ‘horrific’ element, but I am also giving it a part of me - something that is just as horrific. I feel that the action is a removal of the metaphorical abject into the literal.


National Biennale: Derby 2010

Visual ArtsOliver WoodJ1