Los Angeles-based artist Jennifer West creates work that explores the process and materiality of filmmaking. Through video, installation, and performance, West presents celluloid film and negatives that have been subjected to chemicals and physical manipulations. Using unorthodox procedures, West applies dye, ink, food coloring, spray paint, nail polish, salt, perfume, glitter, and even mud to celluloid in order to physically manipulate film negatives.
West received her B.A. from Evergreen State College and her M.F.A. from the Art Center in Pasadena, California. She is an Associate Professor of the Practice of Fine Arts at U.S.C.’s Rossi School of Art and Design.
The performative aspect of West’s work highlights the element of chance that occurs as a result of her interventions. From these performances – often with viewers – alterations happen in the final film product. Her films have no explicit narrative, but West’s personal narrative – from the creation of the work itself to her own background – is embedded into her films.
One of West’s most noted works is “Skate the Sky,” which was staged at the Tate Modern in 2009 where she invited skateboarders to skate over filmstrips taped to the floor. Recent installations include “Film is Dead” at the Seattle Art Museum, which featured a giant static curtain of 70mm film strips and three horizontal monitors, positioned on the ground, which played digitized versions of the filmstrips’ movies. In March 2017, YUZ Museum, Shanghai and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art presented an exhibit of her work, “Is Film Over?”
Her “One Mile Film” was commissioned and produced by High Line Art. It featured images of New York City, shot by West and her crew, which were then altered by visitors to the Highline before being shown at a public outdoor screening.
Her work has been shown in solo exhibits throughout Asia, Europe, and the United States and in major museums such as: LACMA, The Whitney, Tate Modern, and Redcat.