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Jennifer West is an American artist who lives and works in Los Angeles. She is known for her digitized films that are made by hand manipulating film celluloid. She has produced over 70 films since she started working this way in 2004. Wendy Vogel writes for Artforum.com, "Like her experimental predecessors, West forgoes narrative cohesion in favor of creating jumpy cuts and abstract visual collages––splicing, rolling, and drenching the celluloid using materials from Mylar tape to pickle juice, whiskey to candle smoke." Christopher Bedford wrote in Artforum on her work, "sexy, whimsical, painting-scale DVD projections walk that elusive line between pictorial modes with deftness, wit, and airy originality." Joanna Kleinberg wrote on her work in Frieze "the intermingling of materiality, feeling and identity creates a wild blend of synaesthetic experience wherein the substances of life literally and figuratively colour the film."
She was born in Topanga, California and received her MFA from Art Center College of Design (Pasadena, California) in 2004 and her BA from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. She studied with Mike Kelley and Diana Thater at Art Center.
West makes 16mm, 35mm and 70mm films by manipulating the film celluloid to a level of performance. The film emulsion might be doused with perfume, Jack Daniels or pepper spray, skateboarded on or dragged through tar pits. West is also known for the Zine booklets that she produces featuring the production stills showing the making of the films. The destroyed and distressed films are then digitized and shown as looping video projections in museums and art galleries.
She is best known for the live performance, "Skate the Sky" staged at the Tate Modern in London in 2009 where she invited skateboarders to skate over filmstrips taped to the floor of the Turbine Hall. Other significant commissions include, "One Mile Film" (for High Line Art, NY) where the artist taped a mile-long filmstrip to the length of the High Line walk-way in New York City for one-day allowing the visitors to leave their mark on the film by writing messages, drawing, and walking on the filmstrip. The damaged 58 minute, 40 second film was digitized to high-definition and shown as a digital projection onto the side of a building on the High Line. She has also made commissioned projects for Aspen Art Museum (2010) and as an Artist in Residence at the MIT List Visual Arts Center (2011).
West's one-person shows have been presented at High Line Art, New York, NY (2012); S1 Artspace, Sheffield, England (2012), Vilma Gold, London (2011-12), Contemporary Art Museum, Houston (2010), Western Bridge, Seattle, Washington (2010), Kunstverein Nuremberg (2010), Marc Foxx Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2009), Vilma Gold, London, UK(2008); Transmission Gallery,Glasgow, Scotland (2008); Statements, Art Basel 39, Basel, Switzerland (2008); Marc Foxx Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2007); and White Columns, New York, NY (2007). West's work has been included in exhibitions at the Saatchi Gallery, London (2012); Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center (2012); 5th Biennial of the Moving Image, Mechelen, Belgium (2011), Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt (2010), Seattle Art Museum, (2010), Leubsdorf Gallery, Hunter College, New York; ICA, Philadelphia, Cubitt Art Gallery, London, UK, Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO, Art TLV 08, Tel Aviv, Israel, Tate St. Ives, UK, CAPC Musee d'Art Contemporain, Bordeaux, France, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WA, The Drawing Center, New York, NY, Rose Art Museum, Waltham, MA, Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, MI and ZKM Museum for New Media, Karlsruhe, Germany.
West often produces Zines for her exhibitions and performances. The Zines are made with black and white production stills from the making of her films. They are given away at her exhibitions for free. All zines have been published in editions of 500.
Zines to Date
Smoke, Mirrors, Darts and Lavender Mist. 2010. Produced by the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, Texas in conjunction with Perspectives 176: Jennifer West. Curated by Valerie Cassel Oliver.
Shred the Gnar Full Moon Film Noir. 2010. Produced by the Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, Colorado in conjunction with performance and exhibitions, Shred the Gnar Full Moon Noir. Curated by Matthew Thompson.
Wheels Ink Ho-ho's and Melon, Skate the Sky Film Production Stills. 2009. Produced by Vilma Gold and MARC FOXX in conjunction with performance and screening at Tate Modern, London, UK. Curated by Stuart Comer.
Pomegranate Juice and Pepper Spray Production Stills. 2009. Produced by Jennifer West and MARC FOXX in conjunction with "Pomegranate and Pepper Spray" solo exhibition at MARC FOXX, Los Angeles.
Electric Kool-aid and the Mezcal Worm Production Stills. 2008. Produced by Jennifer West in conjunction with solo exhibition, "Electric Kool-aid and the Mezcal Worm" at Vilma Gold, London.
Jennifer West. Production Stills 2008. Produced by Vilma Gold in conjunction with Jennifer West's Statements Presentation at Art Basel 30, Switzerland.
- "The Film Looked Like a Licked Sunset" Eastofborneo.org
- Contemporary Art Museum, Houston
- "Jennifer West: Marc Foxx". ArtForum. 2009.
- Skate the Sky http://www.artforum.com/video/id=22989&mode=large&page_id=0 2