With over half a century’s worth of work exploring the feminine to distinguish her, Penny Slinger continues to be an innovative and provocative artistic force in the age of New Media.
James Dorman | Ed Cristina Brooks | 22 March 2021
Los Angeles-based artist Penny Slinger (b. 1947) has a celebrated career, stretching back in the ’70s when she took her first steps as an artist amid a maelstrom of political protest, social change and sexual revolution. Ahead of her time in many ways, Slinger explores themes of female desire, subjugation and rebirth. Working across media such as paper and digital collage, Slinger uses her own body in her works of feminist surrealism to explore the female identity, eroticism and the relationship between sexuality, mysticism and femininity.
Artist, Title work (yyyy) © Courtesy of the artist.
Penny Slinger, My Body in a Box (2020) photography collage © Courtesy of the artist.
linger’s contemporary New Media collage series My Body in a Box, a response to the covid-19 pandemic, shows the artist nude surrounded with the objects she uses daily to survive. The work is currently on display in LA art gallery Blum & Poe’s new digital platform, Broadcasts.
Did you know?
1977’s An Exorcism, one of Slinger’s most recognised series, was initially born from a collaborative project with British filmmaker Peter Whitehead, and released as Elephant Trust’s limited print publication of 99 collages. Half of the material produced for the iconic series was not released at the time. In 2020, Slinger released a Digital Art presentation of the entire series with help from Blum & Poe; the first time it had been released in its entirety.
Slinger’s An Exorcism was released for the first time in its entirety in the 2020 New Media creation An Exorcism – The Works. The digital presentation of the complete series, including pieces not previously released as part of the 1977 limited-print publication, was constructed from scans of original 16mm negative background plates.
Slinger and her creative partner Dhiren Dasu have realised the full psycho-dramatic arc of An Exorcism almost 50 years after its initial inception through this captivating moving image presentation, featuring vocal overlay from Slinger herself and accompanied by a score from composer David Kobza.
Penny Slinger, Protest Prayer (2020) Collages and poems: © Penny Slinger, Photos of Penny Slinger by @ Dhiren Dasu
My Body in a Box (2020)
As she has always done in her work, Slinger uses her own body as the centrepiece of this Digital Art collage series created as a response to the covid-19 pandemic. Using surrealism, Slinger explores the psychological entrapment brought about by lockdown and the full spectrum of emotions and reactions it can provoke. The collection looks to, in part, magnify this intense period of self-reflection for everyone in the world.
Collages and poems: © Penny Slinger
Photos of Penny Slinger by Dhiren Dasu
Penny Slinger, Out of The Shadow (2017) documentary © Courtesy of the artist.
Out of the Shadow (2017)
This documentary tells the untold story of Penny Slinger, exploring her early career and the personal events that lead to the creation of her 1977 photo-romantic masterpiece, An Exorcism. With a mixture of archived footage of Slinger’s work, interviews with her contemporaries and insight from the woman herself, the film gives a captivating insight into the world of 1970s artistic counterculture and paints a fascinating picture of life in this world.
Marya Stark, Queen Of Keys (2017) © Courtesy of the artists.
Lyrics, Photography, Digital Art and Video- Penny Slinger
Music Production, Mixing- David Earl
Vocals, Lyrics, Music Production, Model- Marya Stark
Music Production, Photography-Dhiren Dasu
Vocals- Heatherlee Richerson
Queen of Keys (2017)
A series of photos of musician Marya Stark captured by Slinger formed the foundation of this audio/visual work of Digital Art, with each image accompanied by a poem from Slinger. The words were sent to Stark from which she crafted a song, layering her voice and adding music. Finally, Slinger produced the music video for the song simply using the original set of images and nothing else.
Queen of Keys marks a kinetic and dynamic collaboration between Slinger and Stark, with each woman’s creativity spurring the other.
Penny Slinger graduated from the Chelsea College of Art in 1969, achieving a First-Class Honours Diploma in Art and Design. While working on her college thesis on surrealist Max Ernst, Slinger met Sir Roland Penrose who became her patron. She was awarded the 1973 Achievement in Art grant from the Cassandra Foundation in Illinois. An artist of extreme versatility, Slinger was also a performer in England’s first all-female theatre troupe, Holocaust, in 1971. Slinger has over a dozen publications to her name, dating back to the early 1970s, many of which have been sold worldwide.
2020 An Exorcism- The Works, Broadcasts, Blum and Poe, Los Angeles, USA
2019 Penny Slinger: Tantric Transformations, Richard Saltoun Gallery, London, UK
2019 Inside Out, Fortnight Institute, New York, NY, USA
2015 Self Impressions, Riflemaker Gallery, London, UK
2015 Penny Slinger, Blum and Poe Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
2020 Some of the Hole, Simian gallery, Copenhagen
2020 LESS Festival of Contemporary Collage, Viborg, Denmark.
2020 The Botanical Mind: Art, Mysticism and the Cosmic Tree, Camden Arts Center, London.
2020 Tantra: Enlightenment To Revolution, British Museum, London.
2020 The Enchanted Interior, Guildhall, London.
2020 Bodily Objects, Richard Saltoun Gallery, London.
2019 Art installation for the Dior Haute Couture fashion show in Paris.
2019 Out of the Shadows, Anthology Film Archives film festival, New York.