Nearly 20 years ago, a young artist named Arnold J. Kemp was working at a used camera store in Boston when a customer came in, browsing the Bolex cameras. Bored, Kemp started chatting up the customer, who wound up buying not one but two expensive cameras and introducing himself as Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth. The guitarist offered Kemp a pair of tickets to see their show that night—they were touring in support ofDaydream Nation—and the show, Kemp says, changed the artist's life.
"It changed my thinking about what art could be, about abstraction. It took me out of my areas of knowledge and experience—it was something totally new and different, and that's what I'm trying to do with my work and the project here in Portland."
Kemp is currently in Portland as an artist-in-residence for the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art's (PICA) Time-Based Art Festival (TBA), working on a project calledDaydream Nation: Suspiria Version.
Kemp's Daydream Nation takes the form of black monochrome canvases, which have an uncommonly visceral depth to them, thanks to their large scale and use of unconventional materials like enamel, black glitter, and vinyl. At TBA, Kemp will be exhibiting these paintings, along with a curated show, which is where Suspiria—and you—come in.
Suspiria is Dario Argento's classic underground horror flick from 1977, which, along with John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness, were hugely influential on Kemp's Daydream Nation paintings. When PICA asked Kemp to do some sort of community outreach as part of his residency—a free lecture, perhaps—Kemp decided to involve Portland artists more directly in his show. This Thursday, May 10, Kemp will screen Suspiria at the Clinton Street Theater, and he's inviting people to create art inspired by the films. He'll then curate an exhibition from the results, which will be shown as part of TBA, in conjunction with his own paintings.
Interested artists can email PICA's Kristan Kennedy (firstname.lastname@example.org) for submission guidelines, but first you've got to show up and watch the films. Who knows—they could very easily wind up changing the way you think about art and taking you outside your areas of knowledge and experience.