In 1969, Penny Slinger began what would become a seven-year period of deep introspection. She entered into an exercise of delving psychically into the profound issues of identity and social contextualization, yielding archetypal glyphs she believed would have relevance reaching far beyond her own personal predicament and provide guideposts for others on their own path through life’s labyrinth. Slinger produced photography, collage work, and a film treatment—all under the project she christened An Exorcism. Although ninety-nine of the collages were published in 1977 in a limited-edition book produced by surrealist Roland Penrose’s Elephant Trust, these represent under half of the collage works comprising this iconic series. Those “missing” pieces were never released.
Fifty years later, in 2019 Slinger revisited this journey with the painstaking process of rendering a digital film of the complete series from analog archival materials. Constructed from scans of original 16mm negative background plates, Slinger and her creative partner Dhiren Dasu present the full arc of An Exorcism’s psycho-drama in moving image. Released here as a world premiere, the film generates virtual depth, perspective, and movement, allowing the viewer to travel through each mise en scène of the original collages. Vocals by Slinger—narrations and spontaneous musings—are accompanied by a score by composer and multi-instrumentalist David Kobza.
This new work represents the completion of a fifty-year cycle for Slinger. Time and space allowed her to view each of the collages with a fresh perspective and for her to fully experience the rite of passage that this work represents. The Exorcism is now truly complete.
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It is the nakedness of desire and the maze of untried experiences through which the young explorer is led that brings her to realise instinctively that a form of exorcism, to be discovered for herself, is the only path to follow. It becomes apparent that the haunting pressure of primeval transgression, recast in present day style, can only be resolved by sacrifice...
— Introduction by Roland Penrose, from Slinger's An Exorcism (Villiers Publications Ltd., 1977)
Read full text here.
On the occasion of the film’s release, Penny Slinger Studio is offering a selection of limited edition prints from An Exorcism series. Offered in editions of 10, these archival inkjet prints are available for $800 each, with 50% of profits going to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase.
Specifically, the collage work shows the unravelling of my psyche against the backdrop of a derelict mansion. I took the mansion to be the symbol of myself. But what is the self and who owns this place? Is this my father’s mansion? And why is there a brick wall behind the door, which opens to all the wonders of the inner world? An Exorcism is all about figures inhabiting a space, a mise-en-scène, a set. It’s a detective story, determined to remove the ‘bricks’ one by one, unleash the skeletons in the cupboards, and reveal why it is that there’s a man holding the key...
— Penny Slinger (interview with Katya Tylevich for Elephant Magazine, summer 2012)
Read full interview here.
In the current global crisis, it feels like we all have been pressed into these isolation tanks where we cannot help but look at our own natures and the nature of society, and are forced to reassess much of who we are and examine our own fears and sense of security. With this being the case, I want to offer these works, created over a 7-year period of deep introspection, during the 1970s. My firm belief then was that if I delved deeply enough into all these profound issues of identity and social contextualization, I could come up with archetypal glyphs that would have relevance reaching far beyond my own personal predicament and provide guideposts for others on their own path through the labyrinth.
— Penny Slinger