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G L A M O R O U S
 
4 - 27 May 2018
  
Jennifer studied her MFA in Painting at The Slade School of Fine Art in 2014.
She currently lives and works in London.
 
 
 
 
 
 
A conversation between Jennifer Campbell and Katerina Artemiou at OUTPOST Gallery, 1st May 2018.
 
KA: How does it feel to be back in Norwich?
 
JC: It’s quite strange, I guess whenever you go back to somewhere you haven’t been in a while it reminds you of the passing of time and the changing of yourself, that some things change and some things are the same. I met a friend today that I hadn’t seen in years and we’ve gone on different paths but you know; within our friendship we are kind of the same but obviously we’ve both changed. You change from all your experiences and it reminded me that there’s something quite enduring about feminine friendships. I don’t mean just friendships with females but I mean friendships that are feminine with people who are feminine. Bit of a statement but yeah I think there’s something particularly enduring about those friendships.
 
KA: What makes it different? Is it more emotional?
 
JC: Yeah I guess I’m just looking at the type of friendships that have that endurance for me. I wonder whether it has something to do with facing similar difficulties and finding a connection that’s needed. I mean society is obviously a lot more equal now but we are sitting on a quite thin crust. As soon as you read book or a  piece of culture or watch a film, anything you find that’s amazing you still find things that make you say: ”Oh right but that’s a bit sexist” so obviously this is going to psychologically affect us and there’s other things too...
 
KA: You call your work incessant, when do you know it’s finished and ready to show? Or is it more of a continuous working process?
 
JC: My fascination is the transformation of the materials. Obviously I use quite cheap materials and I put this surface change on where I manipulate the shape of it, almost like dressing them up or rearranging them. Like glamour it is this surface thing that you can borrow but you can never have permanently.
 

So I’ve defined two types of glamorous in the build up to this show. There’s the glamorous that worries me, like I’m sitting on the tube and I see a load of young teenage girls with weird same eyebrows. All look the same and it’s like their eyebrows are like that so they can Instagram themselves, like stage make up! This is what worries me a lot at the moment, the way society is.  That links to coming back to Norwich and thinking about my time here as a student, it’s  like revisiting my past self and collaborating with it.

The other type of glamorous is more optimistic. Maybe something that my past self it’s telling me and it’s a less fearful thing. It’s about transformation, we all need transformation to pull ourselves out of things. But when that gown or glamorous outfit becomes expectation, that’s when it becomes a problem. So I’ve tried to redefine a version of glamorous to make some sort of space within that term and language.

KA: For this show you choose to dissect the word glamorous and its nature. Is it an internal - external thing?

JC: I don’t know where it comes from, I suppose you’re right it comes from the inside but I’m not trying to create an inside - outside boundary here. It’s like when I watched “Paris is Burning”, they found joy in this secret club of transformation. This is what I’m interested in, we see the word glamorous as this shallow thing. It’s what capitalism uses to sell products to people and it’s terrible. But there’s the flip side of glamorous, a more theatrical side.

KA: You are questioning the viewer whether glamour can exist as a “team sport” where everyone can shine. Do you think that can ever happen?

JC: I think it can be, but the overall game needs to be changed or be negotiated. You move to negotiate space within it because things are getting more and more airtight in terms of consumerism.

The idea for this show is, these are all characters in a PE lesson. Mr pepper in the corner, who is the history teacher and he’s covering the PE lesson but he really doesn’t have any control of the kids in the class. They are the non-squad that has no interest in playing netball, they are playing their own game and I love this idea of playing by our own rules. They have taken over this lesson, it’s meant to be their practice lesson but the don’t actually play because they are so bad at it. These guys are playing a slow motion glamour game.

KA: Why did you choose netball?

JC: So I really hated netball [laughs]. I just couldn’t get in the flow of anything, I was constantly trying to think where I’m standing and all the rules. I did some research into it and it was invented a year after basketball, as a sport for women and it was played in this ridiculously long and restrictive skirts.

The netball court is a symbol for competition and the set rules of the game - we are taught everything is a game that we have to participate in. So the obedience is a symptom of our society and I want to find a way to renegotiate this in order to find a space within it.

KA: I love the link between the picture taken in 2005 in Norwich and your most recent work. Almost like you’re coming back to it. What is the transformation you see from the Jennifer then and the Jennifer now?

JC: I never used this photo in a piece of work, it was just a bit of visual research and I came across it recently when I was doing up my website but when I looked back at it it was what my work pitted itself against. It is this weird sense of collaborating with my past self, almost like the picture was a letter to my future self and now I’m writing back. I’m just questioning if there’s a value in the glamorous and this is what led me into the concept for this exhibition. To mess things up a little bit and break my previous rules. I wanted to unmute the woman in the picture and imagine what she would say.

KA: Finally, what’s next for you?

JC: I need to go back and clear out my studio because at the moment it looks like a pack of 10 year olds had their lunch break there! [laughs]. I have an open studio coming up this month and I’m also working on a couple of things. Also, I just found out today that I’ve got something coming up in May next year called “Beauty Salon”. It’s an exhibition in Cambridge with Cathy Lomax and Alli Sharma who I really respect.

 


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