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Jennet Thomas

Jennet Thomas‘ films conjure delirious parallel universes in everyday Britain’s most mundane corners. Yet in this Looking Glass world, what we take for granted is quickly turned inside out. Preachers, teachers and quasi-political pundits with bright yellow or purple skin harangue its denizens with songs and slide presentations; the beliefs and rules they champion are full of promise, but always obscure. All suffering soon to end, pronounces the sinister character who doorstops an elderly couple in the 2010 film of this name, with his wig, skin and clothes the colour of a 1960s comic-book villain and his dialogue taken from a Jehovah’s Witness leaflet; 2007’s The Black Tower presents a lineup of converts, their faces painted gold as though shimmering with illumination. Whether this is of the divine or artistic variety is a moot point. What’s caused their new way of thinking could be a stain or a pattern. It’s certainly addictive. Building on a tradition of surreal British satire (…), Thomas draws attention to the tacit systems that shape daily life, whether the body language of authority figures or the empty rhetoric of institutions. Her latest, School of Change, takes the “credit system” – and other economic or marketing jargon now used in education – and creates an Orwellian high school musical where everything comes down to a number. Yet Thomas prefers poetry to straight send-ups. In School of Change, girls sit in class with scarecrow versions of themselves and live in fear of “hard weather”, which can lob off limbs. Her films are always too strange to be directly mapped on to specific social issues. More than this, it’s our assumptions about reality itself that she brings tumbling down.  [From: Skye Sherwin’s Artist of the week in the Guardian 12 July 2012]

This is not a performance or a Lecture, 2011

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