George Jenne.

“My desk is the one place in the studio where nothing really matters. It is a place to think, read, cut, draw, paste and generally fuck up. When I’m sitting at this desk, I feel none of the self imposed pressure to make an idea work. The only imperative is to come up with something, better yet, lots of somethings. Much of what I make at my desk is discarded or hidden in a box for ever. The filtered down stuff that makes its way into the studio gives me a steady excited knot in my stomach. This is how I know it is good.

The desk was given to me by a wealthy woman who had no tangible use for it.”

Books:

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
• small Rhodia sketchbooks, organized chronologically
• Stephen King’s Night Shift
• The Art of War by Sun Tzu
• The Way and Its Power by Arthur Waley
• On Longing by Suzan Stewart
• medium sketchbooks, randomly ordered
• Mr. Technicolor by Herbert Kalmus (the inventor of Technicolor)
• Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney
• Puppets and Automata by Max Von Boehn
• The Uncanny by Sigmund Freud
• Stephen King’s Danse Macabre
• a pile of Fangoria magazines, collected from the age of 14-17

Miscellany:

•drawing tools
• fake plastic skulls from a halloween store paper
• mache skull from a craft store
• Makata skateboard candle
• current ink studies and collages glue, scissors, scrap paper

George Jenne was born in Richmond, VA and grew up in Chapel Hill, NC. He currently splits his time between New York City and Chapel Hill. He teaches in the Film/Animation/Video department at the Rhode Island School of Design. Some of his latest work will be seen in December at Frosch & Portman in New York, NY.


 

FROM YOUR DESKS: What are you working on?

GEORGE JENNE: I have two projects going in tandem. I’m doing a series of large skull drawings made from graphite and taken from very small quick ink drawings. The images are heavily layered and become sort of mysterious and abstract. The basic idea is to maintain all of the loose, instinctual gesture of the ink drawings but to slow the marks down exponentially by essentially whittling away at them with a number 2 pencil. The process is excruciatingly slow but it creates an interesting tension. Similar drawings ended up in Don’t Look Now. The next step is to chronicle an entire movie this way by taking drawings from film stills and blowing them up into graphite. From there, I’ll make cast lead props that relate to the drawings. This is a long-term project. Who knows when it’ll be done.

The other thing I’m working on is a series of large photo prints of old masks and props that I made as a teenager. These items are roughly twenty years old and have decayed pretty bad. Perfect time to record them.

Those movies usually alter my sense of reality for a time after having watched them. There’s something psychotropic going on.

FYD: In your work Some Hours After the Confederate are we seeing a portal?   

GJ: Yes, you’re looking through amorphous hole in a giant door. That piece was about dwarfing the viewer before they entered this tableaux. The legs themselves are roughly six feet long. The door is over eight feet tall. It was meant to be cozy and uncanny at the same time.

FYD: The socks and sneakers; what labels?

GJ: The cords, Levis. The shoes, Vans, though I changed the tread pattern. I liked the
zig zag much better.

FYD: Did Nick Roeg’s Don’t Look Now make a scene by scene impact?

GJ: I think that every movie makes a scene by scene impact. That’s how they operate. They play with you in little increments. Build up tension, tell you something you might not have known, make you wonder or laugh or scream, give you a quick break, then on to the next moment.

FYD: What other films?

GJ: The movies that stick with me the most are those that feel a bit like they’re taking place in a vacuum. There is an unusual quality to the sound or lack thereof. The pacing feels like the story could be moving forward or backward. You can see people constantly thinking but nothing is overtly revealed. Those movies usually alter my sense of reality for a time after having watched them. There’s something psychotropic going on.

I think it’s true that horror or any expression of morbid curiosity is a distilled version of our personal and societal anxieties.

Paper Moon, Two Lane Blacktop, 2001 A Space Odyssey. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre really wigged me out for a while. I saw it when I was twelve in the middle of the afternoon and when I came out of it, the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day and I was totally confused.

FYD: Did you father tell you any other bed time stories?

GJ: No. He sang me Harry Belafonte’s “Jamaica Farewell.”

FYD: Were you more of a mystery/suspense guy, pulp style or straight horror?

GJ: I watch everything. As a teenager, I was obsessed with horror. That kind of gratuitous violence resonated with whatever was freaking me out at the time. It still does. I think it’s true that horror or any expression of morbid curiosity is a distilled version of our personal and societal anxieties. It’s soft snuff. No one actually dies, so its palatable, but its still death. I don’t know a single person who isn’t concerned with their own mortality.

FYD: Diamond Jubilee. The Boy Scout, the logs, the red tint, the logs and fraternity paddle; what is going on here?

GJ: I was a Boy Scout and to this day I’m ambivalent about the experience. I was entering puberty when the BSA’s 75th Anniversary came around, hence the name Diamond Jubilee so everything was up in the air then. I was in the oldest Boy Scout troop in the country and it was my first experience with corruption. Those years were a drawn out moment of me saying “Oh, this is how the world is…”

Before this show, I was tossing around in my head this story from
News Of The Weird” in which throngs of Ethiopian twelve-year olds were dressing like Michael Jackson and intimidating the shit out of people in their neighborhoods around Addis Ababa. This idea of the uncannily aggressive child had a lot of power for me. That image of gangs of mini Michael Jackson’s smashing car windows gives me the same sense of vacuum that I talked about with regard to watching films.

FYD: How do props add to your art–it’s like we are in a movie set.

GJ: That’s the idea. Everything I make is some sort of movie set. I want to synthesize sculpture and cinema so that the sculpture itself becomes cinematic. It’s really part of a long obsession with movies and the cult of film and the way in which movies are made.

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