Tuesday, February 24, 2009 at 7:30pm in our NEW SPACE
Jennet Thomas and Jim Trainor: Natural Selections

A double bill of philosophical humor and strange science, the cute and the brute.

Emerging form London's anarchistic underground film and live art club scene in the 90s, where she was a co-founder of the fabled Exploding Cinema Collective, Jennet Thomas's work began as spoken performance with projections, and developed into an innovative hybrid of film languages. Her videos recall weird children’s programming, low-rent 70s sci-fi TV, and Britain’s vaudeville-like music hall traditions; rainbow-hued set designs and idiosyncratic uses of sound collide with a surprising amalgam of genres. "I like to explore unlikely methods of sense-making,” she says. “My narratives are often generated via dream-logic and increasingly experimental methodologies, inspired by odd corners of British culture, our relationship with science, despair at the way the world goes, and the problems of 'truth.'” In Because of the War, a dapper Yellow Man Lecturer looks the viewer squarely in the eye and delivers an account of how it all came to pass: the conflict, the changes, everyday acts of transubstantiation, leading to a world where magick and ritual are suburban norms. Return of the Black Tower provides an elliptical response to John Smith’s 1987 film The Black Tower, and The Man who went Outside features performance artist Richard Layzell, trapped in an ever changing color-void, locked in a power play with a perversely operated camera.

Drawn in fat, inky lines with black sharpies on plain paper, Jim Trainor’s animations explore the inner lives of animals who appear strangely self-aware even as they instinctually copulate, feed, fight, kill and die. Sometimes his characters are humans, likewise acting under animal impulses, who nonetheless passively recount mental inventories of their own organism-driven actions. The Magic Kingdom intersperses footage of creatures in artificial zoo landscapes with what may be animated diagrams of their souls, while Harmony presents ten vignettes of animals and people wracked with guilt over broken taboos. A video documentary that continues Trainor’s trademark morbid humor, The Skulls, and the Skulls and the Bones, and the Bones visits with an amateur taxidermist who lives with his creepy collection in a tiny apartment. The Presentation Theme, Trainor's latest work, involves a mammal-headed snake, a Peruvian prisoner, and a blood-hungry priestess.

The Man Who Went Outside, Jennet Thomas, video, 2008, 10 mins
Return of the Black Tower, Jennet Thomas, video, 2007, 15 mins
Because of the War, Jennet Thomas, video, 2005, 14 mins
The Magic Kingdom, Jim Trainor, 16mm, 2002, 7 mins
The Skulls, and the Skulls and the Bones, and the Bones, Jim Trainor, video, 2003, 13 mins
Harmony, Jim Trainor, 16mm, 2005, 13 mins
The Presentation Theme, Jim Trainor, 16mm, 2008, 14 mins

Followed by a conversation between Thomas and Trainor.

Jennet Thomas has screened regularly over the international film festival and microcinema arena in Europe and the US for the past decade. More recently her work has been appearing in the form of video installations in galleries, with her first solo London exhibition at PEER Gallery in 2007 and a forthcoming show at Matt’s Gallery London. Her work is represented internationally by Video Data Bank. She teaches at Art School and is Pathway Leader of BA Fine Art: Time Based Media at the University of the Arts, London. She also makes paintings, drawings and objects and lives in Nunhead, South London with filmmaker Paul Tarragó and Olive the cat.

Jim Trainor (b. 1961) has been making animated films since he was thirteen. In that time his medium has changed little - his preferred technique is black magic marker on typing paper. He grew up in Washington DC, and lived in New York City in his 20s and 30s. The Fetishist (1997), a portrait of a serial killer, took him eleven years to make and is highly unpleasant, though perhaps not in the way you might expect. A series of films about animals - The Bats, The Moschops, The Magic Kingdom and Harmony - followed, and have been widely screened, sometimes under the collective title The Animals and Their Limitations. The third-mentioned was in the 2004 Whitney Biennial in New York. In 2000 Mr. Trainor got a teaching job at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he is now lodged happily. He is currently at work on a new series of films, Nascent Humanity, of which The Presentation Theme has just been completed (2008), to be followed by a long, meandering, as yet untitled film about the sun-and moon-myths of a headhunting culture. Beyond filmmaking, his passions include looking closely at birds and insects and reading forgotten anthropology books of the 1920s.

Tickets - $7, available at door.