2021/22 multi channel video and sculpture installation
About the work
In this recent artwork, darklins explores art making as a mode of queer birth and reproduction, in reference to Lincolnshire folklore. Can art, and particular use of media, be a speculative mode of engaging with utopian models of queer reproduction, community and futurity?
Supernatural fiction, in particular, the ghost story and science fiction have been an outlet, coded or otherwise for queer expression. Gothic horror embedded the notion of the outsider: monstrous same sex attraction, lust and sin. The Victorian and Edwardian ghost story featured the repressed yearnings of the lone male. Often his fear and desire, materialised through spectral manifestations. In E.F Benson’s story ‘The Thing in the Hall’ (1912), two gentleman dabble in the fashionable, spiritualist practice of table turning. This results in the production of a large, slug-like ‘thing’. The manifestation can be read as phallus and offspring. The male spiritual mediums of the era, known for their production of matter, were largely homosexual and found new freedoms in gender transgression through their mediumship.
In Lincolnshire Fenland folklore, as recounted by M.C Balfour in Legends of the Cars (1891), a group of male magical creatures, the Tiddy Mun reclaim the land and waterways for displaced people. This happened after the draining of the fens for capitalist purposes and is comparative to the recent loss of queer spaces for the same reason. The Tiddy Mun are malevolent, benevolent and can be interpreted as queer. “O’ summer noights tha da’anced i’ tha moonshine o’ th’ great flat…smeared ‘un wi’ blood, an’ thowt a deal more on ‘un than o’ th’ pa’asson bodies.” (Balfour, 1891).
I have explored art making as a form of queer reproduction and queer male birthing. Particular media in the video, such as: drawing, sculpture and animation have expounded this. Transgressive tropes relating to mediumship, whilst working with performers has also been a method of production. The Lincolnshire Fens are my birthplace and I have queered this landscape and folklore, relating queer bodies to the fens liminality. Creating and birthing dough sculptures, in the video performance was in response to Julia Kristeva’s writings in Powers of Horror (1980), considering abjection and deviating from the boundaries of the body, being distasteful. Feminst marxism has been integral to the work and research in queer futurity. The sculptures were made using flour from the Lincolnshire fens, on location. Like the manifestations in ghost stories and folktales they resemble offspring and the phallic. The work challenges heteronormative places and spaces, gender expectations, inner colonialism and elucidates theories of queer reproductive and societal futurity.
James Chantry is an artist, researcher and educator. He has exhibited internationally and is currently undertaking a PhD by practice in Fine Art at De Montfort University, Leicester.
His practice explores the links between the supernatural and queer identity. Utilising fragments of heritage and folklore to form a symbiotic relationship, he produces film and installation work that incorporates: drawing, animation, video, sculpture, photography, sound recordings and found materials. In recent work the literary ghost story, mediumship and folklore are thematic frameworks, alongside specific geographic locations. In particular queering liminal wildernesses, such as fenland and the edge lands between city and countryside. His aim is to create new worlds from the past, that consider: identity politics, psychogeography, supernatural, science fiction and history, in the context of queer futurity.
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