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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Amy Jenkins

Peterborough,
USA

Amy Jenkins’ (b. 1966) approach to art-making is multidisciplinary; the installations she creates combine video, audio, sculpture, and performance to create a poetic space that emulates thought and memory. Over the years she has worked with the moving image combined with sculpture in a number of ways, both with miniature objects and with large architectural elements. Consistent in her work is the psychological aspects of interiors, whether physical in structure or of an individual’s psyche. Her installations, films, and photography have been exhibited, screened and published internationally; solo exhibitions include ATHICA: Athens Institute for Contemporary Art, Athens, Georgia, Brattleboro Museum, Vermont; Kustera Tilton Gallery, NYC, Sioux City Art Center, Iowa, and John Michael Kohler Art Center, Sheboygan, WI; as well as museum group shows at Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca, NY; The Haifa Museum, Haifa, Israel; The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Oberosterreichisches Landesmuseum, Linz, Austria; Cheekwood Museum, Nashville, TN; and Palm Beach ICA, FL; Recent film screening venues include The Brattle, Cambridge, MA; Anthology Film Archives, NY; and Aurora Picture Show, Houston, TX.

Jenkins’ work has received wide support from granting organizations, including New Hampshire State Council for the Arts, New York State Council for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Jerome Foundation, the Experimental Television Center, and Aaron Siskind Foundation. She received the Berkshire Taconic A.R.T. Fellowship for 2010. She has also been a Harvestworks Media Artist-in-Residence in NY; other residencies include an NEA-sponsored Fellowship and residency at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, VA, and artist residencies at MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, NH; Yaddo, Saratoga, NY; Djerassi, Woodside, CA and Light Work, Syracuse, NY. She has been a two-time nominee for the CalArts Alpert Award in Film/Video. Her films received the Director’s Choice Award from the Black Maria Film and Video Festival, as well as a Jury’s Choice Award at the New York Exposition of Short Film and Video.

Included in the Thames and Hudson book New Media in Late Twentieth-Century Art by Michael Rush, Jenkins’ artwork has also been reviewed and reproduced in The New York Times, ARTnews, Performing Arts Journal, Aperture, Art New England, The Village Voice, Art Papers, and Bomb, among others.

Feminist Artist Statement

Conceptually my artwork begins with the seed of something from my own life. This process includes the examination of personal concerns that are universal yet are not often discussed within a public sphere; my experience becomes a stand-in for shared experience. In this respect, as a woman artist my work is inextricably bound to my femaleness.

I am also fascinated with the boundary of reality and fiction, a tension created between two states that suspends concrete thought and allows the viewer to enter a metaphorical space. Furthering this state of wonder, many of my video installations play with the sense of scale through the use of the miniature and gigantic. Toy houses and real houses merge. Undersized objects and oversized humans collide.

My family and I are often the performers in this landscape of the home. The content revealed can be challenging; familial relationships, home, sexuality, and the male/female identity are themes I frequent. Visceral and emotional, these personal narratives offer a window into intimate life, where the commonplace becomes surprising and unexpected.

<p>Ebb</p>

Ebb

The projected image of blood-clouded water fills a miniature tub into which a woman climbs, crossing the static bounds of space and object. Slowly, one begins to notice the blood recede into her body, the water clearing. Bleeding every month is a defining female experience, yet “Ebb” is a rite of purification in reverse. She gathers up her womanhood and climbs out of the tub, fortified by the transfusion.

Link to view video on artist’s website:
http://www.amyjenkins.net/videos/ebb.html

Ebb

The projected image of blood-clouded water fills a miniature tub into which a woman climbs, crossing the static bounds of space and object. Slowly, one begins to notice the blood recede into her body, the water clearing. Bleeding every month is a defining female experience, yet “Ebb” is a rite of purification in reverse. She gathers up her womanhood and climbs out of the tub, fortified by the transfusion.

Link to view video on artist’s website:
http://www.amyjenkins.net/videos/ebb.html

Shelter for Daydreaming

“Shelter for Daydreaming” is a two-channel video which invokes the netherworld of “In-Betweeness.” Projected 8 x 11 feet onto a suspended, “floating” wall centered within the gallery, one side of the wall shows a small house seemingly suspended in an aqueous region which is without gravity, yet is somehow tethered to the movement of the underside of waves. Occasionally, a wave will lift from the base of the house, revealing its underside. In this momentary flash are trees and a landscape pointing downwards, becoming the roots that temporarily stabilize and give location and mass to the house. As quickly as this under/aboveworld appears, it is obscured by the resettling of the wave and the viewer is returned to the isolated, aqueous void into which the house is slowly being pulled.

The second channel of “Shelter for Daydreaming” is projected onto the opposite side of the floating wall in the center of the gallery. This large-scale projection shows the interior of an empty house. The view focuses on two rooms, separated by a central wall; the interior sways back and forth as if contained within a boat. The fluid movement can be mesmerizing and meditative, yet also unstable and precarious. The large-scale projections both contain fluid, rocking motions that can physically affect the viewer’s equilibrium.

“Shelter for Daydreaming” summons a feeling of being on a voyage through water and air with no destination named. As if in a daydream, the fluid movement of the video is mesmerizing and meditative, yet also unstable and precarious. There is a sense of searching and isolation, the desire to find a home. Addressing the notions of interior and exterior, above and below, “Shelter for Daydreaming” invokes the netherworld of “In-Betweeness:” To be without origin, floating somewhere between the solid and the fluid, somewhat awake, yet far away from an actual place.

Link to view video on artist’s website:
http://www.amyjenkins.net/videos/shelter.html

Edition One of Two, is in the permanent collection of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.

“Shelter for Daydreaming” was made possible in part with funds and in-kind support from: The New York State Council on the Arts, The Jerome Foundation, The Experimental Television Center, Harvestworks Digital Media Arts Center, and the MacDowell Colony.

Tug

“Tug” is a 3-channel video installation symbolizing the tension and harmony within parenthood. A couple struggles at tug-of-war in a life-sized, diptych projection; between them is a wall-mounted monitor showing a toddler whose movements and emotions correspond to the rope pulled between the parents. What begins as a game, teeters in back and forth sparring, and turns to an all-out struggle to hold onto one’s rope-end.

Link to view video on artist’s website:
http://www.amyjenkins.net/videos/tug.html

Audrey Samsara

“The Audrey Samsara” is a meditative, slowly unfolding film featuring the artist’s 18-month old daughter breastfeeding, falling asleep, reawakening, breastfeeding and again falling into deep sleep. This continual cycle brings to mind the notion of the life force, hence the Buddhist word “Samsara,” meaning the cycle of death and rebirth. Drawing inspiration from renaissance painting, “The Audrey Samsara” echoes depictions of the Madonna and Child, as well as the Pieta, yet it is not idealized nor sentimental. Intimate and edgy, it captures the truth of the nursing experience. “The Audrey Samsara” is a self-portrait of mother and daughter at it’s most minimal and essential: the irrevocable need for nourishment and rest.

Ironically, in May 2004, “The Audrey Samsara” was censored from its first scheduled public exhibition at the New York 5th Avenue gallery of designer Salvatore Ferragamo, when a company executive found the artwork “distasteful.” Articles have been written about the artwork in Art Papers, the National Coalition Against Censorship newsletter, The NY Daily News, The Boston Globe, among others.

Link to view video on artist’s website:
http://www.amyjenkins.net/videos/Audrey%20Samsara.html

Large-scale photographs, produced separately from the video, are also a part of The Audrey Samsara series. Link to view photographs:
http://www.amyjenkins.net/photography/cradle.html

Exhibitions of “The Audrey Samsara” include:

2010: Athens Institute for Contemporary Art, Athens, Georgia;

2009: The Intimate Line, Sepia International Inc., New York, NY;

2009: Boob Tube, screening presented by Aurora Picture Show at Caroline Collective, Houston, Texas;

2006: Haifa Museum of Art, Haifa, Israel;

2005: Brattleboro Museum, Brattleboro, Vermont;

2005: Kustera Tilton Gallery, New York, New York;

2004: Samson Projects, Boston, Massachusetts

From the Same Water

In “From the Same Water,” a miniature pool stands in the center of the darkened room; rear-projected inside the miniature pool a male figure, floating face up, slowly sinks underwater and is obscured. When the figure reappears, it is a female who floats to the surface. The floating and sinking repeats in slow, meditative motion, accompanied by the sound of water, exhaling breath, and cicadas.

The alternating figure brings to mind the relationship between male and female, brother and sister, as well as the intimation of both genders being contained within one body. The title “From the Same Water” refers to amniotic fluid as well as to the passages of birth and death. The tie of male and female is broken when the male figure submerges and does not reappear. Flesh becomes water, akin to spirit.

The artist and her brother, Craig Jenkins, appear in the video. “From the Same Water” is dedicated to Craig Jenkins, who recently died of cancer.

Link to view video on artist’s website:
http://www.amyjenkins.net/videos/From%20the%20Same%20Water.html

Milky-Milk

A small LCD video monitor showing a life-sized breast viewed from below is suspended just above head-height. Perilously clinging to the nipple is a single droplet of milk, which slowly falls from the nipple and obscures the view of the breast. Tenderly the droplet is wiped away, as if “cleaning up” the viewer who has just been “dripped on.”

Bedroom Waltz

“Bedroom Waltz,” a work-in-progress, is an animation of a bed slowly spinning to the music box tune “Honeymoon Waltz” as it unmakes itself down to bare bedposts. One by one, discarded possessions begin to rain down onto the bed. A chair, a crib, clothing, holiday decorations and random keepsakes—the stuff of attics—build on the bed into a precarious mound. From the possibility of romance to the inevitable accumulation of domestic excesses, the bed and its plethora signify the history of living.

“Bedroom Waltz” will be wall-projected the scale of an actual bed, in high-definition. The animation will evolve over several hours.

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Text, images, audio, and/or video in the Feminist Art Base are copyrighted by the contributing artists unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.