ABOUT THE FILM
“Penny Slinger – Out Of The Shadows” is the incredible, untold story of the British artist Penny Slinger and the traumatic events that led to the creation of her masterpiece, the 1977 photo-romance, ‘An Exorcism’.
Coming-of-age against a back drop of post-war austerity and the explosion of colour that characterized the 1960s counter-culture in London, Penny Slinger embraced her generation’s quest for personal freedom and sexual liberation and channeled these desires into her ground-breaking collages and sculptures. So powerful was her vision that 45 years later her work is still influencing contemporary artists.
“I wanted to create art that reflected a state of mind,” she explains. “To be my own muse.” To achieve this Penny Slinger resuscitated Surrealism, instilling it with a radical, feminine perspective that led Rolling Stone to declare about her first book, ‘50% The Visible Woman’ (1971) - “This is a major work – surely to become as ubiquitous as Sergeant Pepper in the culture.” As the respected curator and academic Anke Kempkes observes, "She could have become very, very famous." History played out differently though and by the 1980s Penny Slinger had disappeared.
Richard Kovitch’s film documents Penny Slinger’s life during this intense period of creativity and considers the relevance of her work to the current generation. From her beginnings amidst the grey suburbs of Surrey, to her coming-of-age as part of the Kings Road art scene in the 'The Swinging 60s', all the way to the galleries of London, Los Angeles, New York and Tokyo decades later, this is a portrait of an artist across time that presents fresh experiences of the 1960s counter-culture, the role of women in post-war art and the personal risks an artist must take to emancipate their ideas.
We talk to Penny Slinger’s key collaborators from the period, including the radical filmmakers Peter Whitehead and Jack Bond, and consider her relationship with the acclaimed, feminist playwright Jane Arden, and the controversial film they worked on together, ‘The Other Side Of The Underneath’ (1972). The respected critic Michael Bracewell and the Turner Prize Nominated artists Jane and Louise Wilson help us understand Penny’s relationship with Surrealism and her confidantes Max Ernst and Sir Roland Penrose. And we return to the mysterious, derelict mansion in Northamptonshire that proved such a fertile arena for Penny’s imagination and inspired her critically acclaimed ‘An Exorcism’ series. All this work broke new ground; in some instances it broke its creators. Not everyone made it out alive.
In the 21st century Penny Slinger’s art is being rediscovered via critically acclaimed shows at Broadway 1602, New York, The Riflemaker Gallery, London and most recently, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles. In 2017 she made the cover of the New York Times and was a major exhibitor at the Frieze Art Fair, London. The importance of her work and its continuing power to inspire has seen it embraced by a whole new generation of art lovers. Richard Kovitch’s film consolidates this renaissance, bringing Penny Slinger’s life and work ‘Out Of the Shadows’ and presents it anew for a contemporary audience.