Molly Palmer

Molly Palmer works within and between the media of filmmaking, installation, sculpture and choreography. Using hand made props, sets and costumes, she greenscreens protagonists into layered video worlds where music, gesture and dialogue form cyclical narratives exploring the strangeness concealed within ordinary things.

Her practice is episodic and accumulative, encouraging porous membranes between past, present and future. By generating spaces that are visibly handmade, she builds a hybrid culture dislocated from the slick virtual worlds we are immersed in daily; a timeless no-place with its own rhythm and logic, where reality and fiction become destabilised and intertwined.

Palmer’s installations explore the potential of sculptural sets and surround sound to produce a heightened physical encounter with the work. The fractured narratives that unfold within these material environments explore the transformative potential of personal belief, often seeking resolution for difficult events - sorrow, loss, anxiety, mental health difficulties or trauma.

The art historical and theoretical is filtered through personal experience and diverse visual cultures from design, architecture, theatre, films and TV. Consequently, her time-based assemblages create spaces that are strange yet familiar; narratives that are sometimes funny, bewildering and beautiful but can also be disorienting, emotionally enigmatic, sad or frightening.

Although visually dream-like this work is not intended as fantasy. Instead it offers a step sideways into parallel worlds that allow us to examine and enjoy the complexity and absurdity of being human.

Fountain, 2018

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Fountain, 2018, single channel HD video with stereo sound, 05:43 min (still from video)

Fountain, 2018, single channel HD video with stereo sound, wooden set, hand painted bead curtain and packing blankets. Installation view at House of Egorn, Berlin in I am he as you are she as you are me curated by Kiki Mazzucchelli

Fountain is a single channel video about cycles of belief and nihilism. The film explores the repetition of symbolic visualisation as a potential technology of hope and self-actualisation. A chorus of voices interrogates the symbolism of the cirlcle, questioning its historical, cultural and mythical significance.

Constantly fluctuating between its loaded function as an evocation of wholeness / sanctuary / strength/ infinity, and its paradoxical role as a zero / nothingness / a void of meaning, the circle’s reply is cryptic and open-ended. Perhaps the only real meanings are produced in the process of questioning - through acts of making and becoming.

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Fountain, 2018, single channel HD video with stereo sound, 05:43 min (stills from video)

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Fountain, 2018, single channel video, 05:43 min, installation view in Terraforms curated by Kristian Day

Temperance, 2016, Coil built earthenware jug with hand painted glaze. Used as a film prop in Fountain, 2018

Some Shapes Without Edges, 2016

Some Shapes Without Edges, 2016
Two channel HD video with 4.1 surround sound, wooden set and synchronised lights.
Installation view at Royal Academy, photography by Andy Keats

Film loop running order: Two Friends and Two Curtains, Heart Song and Apples, all 2016 (11:56 min)

Some Shapes Without Edges is an episodic sequence of videos that explore the mystery, complexity and absurdity of being human. A theatrical wooden set extends the films’ hand built mis en scene beyond the cinematic frame, offering a makeshift portal into their video worlds. Bouncing unexpectedly between two ends of the room, the films use spatialised movement of layered surround sound to kidnap viewers into a physical and emotional encounter.

This is a world that follows a different logic; here, things fit together as they do in dreams and in our heads. Music, dance and gesture take over when words won’t work. Small items grow huge and people shrink. A woman whose face is hidden by a camera multiplies, disappearing with a flash as the lights cut out. We sit in darkness while one voice in each corner of the room begins to sing a song. Their a cappella harmonies fade out, soft pools of light grow around the room’s arched doorways and the cycle begins again.

Some Shapes Without Edges, 2016
Two channel HD video with 4.1 surround sound, wooden set and synchronised lights.
Installation view at Royal Academy, photography by Andy Keats

Film loop running order: Two Friends and Two Curtains, Heart Song and Apples, all 2016 (11:56 min)

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Video stills from Two Friends and Two Curtains, 2016

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Two Friends and Two Curtains is a film about the contradictions and anxieties of our connections with other people. Its characters explore the unfathomable intricacies of relationships, and universal experiences such as love and loss - the absurd inadequacy of language when it is used to describe emotion. There is always something strange and new, something unexpected in our feelings and the actions they produce.

The story is sentimental and comical, silly and serious. Two statues learn about friendship from a pair of curtains embodied as a timid pair of identical twins. Using sign language, they begin to demonstrate the semantics of friendship, but soon get distracted by a private emotional subtext. Concentrating on the intricacies of this mounting abstraction, the statues close their eyes. Falling asleep, they dream a dance of friendship in which the curtains perform the heartache of not being able to heal another’s pain, the sadness of separation, a slow process of acceptance and the power of solidarity - with others and within yourself.

Heart Song, 2016

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Video stills from Heart Song, 2016, Two channel HD video with 4.1 surround sound (02:14 min)

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Heart Song and Apples are part of an ongoing series of shorts that interrupt longer works, functioning like inexplicable studio idents or productless ad breaks. Originating from images and ideas that are persistent but inexplicable, these pieces often operate as premonitions - ghost flickers that pull new bodies of work up from the unconscious. Dating back to 2012, they have become a generative mechanism within my practice. Throwing echoes of the past into the present to summon an unknown future, they return periodically to haunt and influence current work.

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Heart Song is a two channel video that interweaves and cross-pollinates several open ended threads. It was initially inspired by a tourist encounter in which an enigmatic figure wearing incongrously formal clothes was seen at the end of a long, empty pier. I lifted my camera to take her photograph, and when I lowered it she was gone. Although only glimpsed momentarily, her image was lodged in my mind. The film is about the retina burn of persistent images and the elastic temporalities of recollection. It is also about electricity and the body, the role of audio visual media in revealing and complicating different layers of reality, the television as a subjective technology and its insides as a physical space.

Apples, 2016

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Video stills from Apples, 2016, Two channel HD video with 4.1 surround sound (01:58 min)

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Apples is a two channel video that begins as a prosaic observation of a local exercise trend through the eyes of an outsider. Transported into an animated sculptural cityscape the protagonist re-enacts her experience, gradually excavating the layers of complicity and pretence within routine physical interactions. This hypnagogic musical rumination examines the strangeness concealed by constructed normalities and the abstract geometries we perform within public space.

In Addition to Everything Real, 2015

In Addition to Everything Real, 2015
Single channel HD video with 4 channel sound and packing blanket curtains (05:27min) Installation view at Royal Academy in Premiums: Interim Projects

In Addition to Everything Real is about two lifts in the lobby of a building. Only it's not about lifts, or buildings - and to say it's about anything is not quite right.

There are objects and activities that are so ordinary that they're absorbed and held physically. We know them in a different way - on an unconscious level that hovers below language and description.

This is an embodied knowledge that comes before the appearance of things in the ‘real’ world. Their presence is so commonplace that it is felt, not thought. We can move among them in the dark and in our sleep.

In small blank moments when movement is instinctive and thoughts shift out of focus, unknowable non-things leak into daily routine. They accumulate in intricate arrangements, like a Magic Eye puzzle that moves and grows. Sometimes in these unremarkable moments between what is fixed and known, the mind becomes blurred in just the right way to glimpse what is hidden behind.

The installation uses layered spatial surround sound to replicate the motion and physical sensations described by the film. The end section operates like a hidden track on an album, in which disembodied pairs of legs perform a hypnotic interpretation of the narrative through dance.

As with Heart Song and Apples, this sequence originated in excess footage and deleted scenes. Although similar sequences had featured in earlier films (The Fade, 2013 and Prime Number, 2012), In Addition to Everything Real catalysed a recognition of this recurring phenomenon as an ongoing series of works with a mysterious generative function.

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Video stills from In Addition to Everything Real, 2015. Single channel HD video with 4 channel sound (05:27min)

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Video stills from In Addition to Everything Real, 2015. Single channel HD video with 4 channel sound (05:27min)

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Molly Palmer: CV

b.1984, lives and works in London

Selected Exhibitions, Screenings and Performances (* forthcoming)

2019

De Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Artist in residence*
The End is a Night Fire (working title), Solo show at Black Tower Projects, London*
Nine Nectarines and Other Porcelain, Solo show at Ty Pawb, Wrexham, touring venues TBC*

2018

Predictions,Performance with Susannah Stark & Karolina Lebeck for Art Licks Weekend*

Terraforms, group exhibition curated by Kristian Day Gallery, London
Exquisite Offerings, group exhibition at Glasgow Project Room for Glasgow InternationalHmn, performance event curated by Chris Fite-Wassilak and Anne Tallentire

I am he as you are she as you are me, four person exhibition curated by Kiki Mazzucchelli at House of Egorn, Berlin
Stampede, film screening curated by Sung Tieu at Royal Academy, London

2017

Black Tower Projects Opening Night,performance event curated by Philip Serfaty
Virtual Landscapes: Travel Through,film program curated by aCinema Space, MilwaukeeChchchchchanges (turn and face the strange), film screening curated by EVGB, Berlin
ON & OFF, Centro De Cultura Digital, Mexico City. organised by Chalton Gallery, London
An Evening of Performances presented by Question Centre & A___Z at Studio RCA RiverlightArt Rotterdam, solo booth with Bosse and Baum for Art Rotterdam Projections

2016

Sirens,The Surround Sound Artists Project curated by David Gryn for Art Basel Miami Beach, Soundscape Park, New World Centre, Miami
Electric Blue,film screening curated by Maria de Pontes, Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo
Not of This Earth,film program curated by Herb Shellenberger at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Buffalo NY

12th Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival, Berwick New Cinema Award: Blue, film screening, Berwick Upon Tweed
Some Shapes Without Edges, Royal Academy Schools’ Show, Royal Academy, LondonMONO 5, Touring film program curated by Rafal Zajko, Courtyard Theatre, LondonHerðubreið Cinema, Seyðisfjörður,Iceland, Bikini Wax, Mexico City and MUPO, Oaxaca

2015

Talk, So I Can See You, Film screening curated by Pil and Galia Kollectiv, Czech Cultural Centre, London
Premiums: Interim Projects, Royal Academy, London
Heckle,Soloscreeningatperformancefestival,BosseandBaum,London

2013 - 2014

The Fade,Touring Solo show, Center for Contemporary Art (CCA), GlasgowThe Fade,Touring Solo show curated by Lucy Sames, Enclave, LondonThe Fade,Solo show, Torna, Istanbul, Turkey

2012

Premonition,SolopresentationofresidencyprojectsatCCAGlasgowPrime Number,Group exhibition, Tou Scene, Stavanger, Norway

2011

Origins of the Island, Three site-specific works presented at Istanbul Biennale, curated by Merve Kaptan as an off-site project with Torna, Istanbul

2010

Amphibia / Double Life, Solo exhibition, Kala Art Institute, Berkeley, CaliforniaOn View, Group exhibition at Kala Art Institute, Berkeley, California

Soft Systems,Solo exhibition at Supine Studios, London

2009

Cloud Mirror, Performance, Whitechapel Gallery, London
GSK Contemporary: Convention!Performance, Royal Academy, LondonOne Hand Clap,group exhibition at Ada Street Gallery, London

2008

Key For Future Door, Solo exhibition, Utrophia Project Space, London EPIC,Groupexhibition,AutoItaliaSouthEast,London
Small Silences (for Rebecca),Film screening, South London Gallery

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Education

2013-16: 2004-2007: 2003-2004:

Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art, Royal Academy Schools, London
BA Studio Practice and Contemporary Critical Studies, Goldsmiths, London Foundation Fine Art, Brighton, passed with distinction

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Awards and Residencies

2018 Arts Council Develop Your Creative Practice Fund
2017 Artist in residence, The Fountainhead Residency, Miami

Artist in Residence, St Paul’s Girls School, London

Jerwood Visual Arts, Artists’ Bursary, London
2016 Artist in residence, The Fountainhead Residency, Miami

Shortlisted for Berwick New Cinema Competition Royal Academy Schools Gold Medal winner
Agnes Ethel Mackay Prize
Zealous Art Prize, national art prize for MFA graduates

2015 Ivor Ray Travel Bursary, The Sorbonne, Paris, France
2013-16 Leverhulme scholarship to attend Royal Academy Schools
2013 Arts Council International Development Fund,Istanbul, Turkey
2012 Creative Lab Residency at the Center for Contemporary Art (CCA) Glasgow2011 European Cultural Foundation: Travel award, Istanbul, Turkey
2010 Artist in Residence, Kala Art Institute, Berkeley, June – November

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Talks and Discussions

2016: Salon: Artist Talk: The Artist as Composer,panel discussion with Susannah Stark, Kathryn Mikesell, William J. Simmons and Rachel Mason at Art Basel Miami BeachINSIGHTS: The Music in Film & Sound with David Gryn, panel discussion with David Gryn, Kathryn Mikesell and John Kieser at the New World Symphony Centre, Miami

2015: Talk so I can See You, panel discussion on editing, sound and image with Pil & Galia Collective, Roman Štětina, Mike Harvey and Billy Howard Price at Bosse and Baum, London

Publications, articles and broadcasts

Rijksakademie Residency for Three British Artists, Embassy of the Netherlands, 2018ArtRotterdam,MetropolisM,reviewofsoloboothwithBosse&Baum,2017
Surround Sound at Art Basel in Miami Beach 2016, article by David Gryn, 2016
High Arousal Soundsystem,sound art program curated by Jonathan P Watts, broadcast on Resonance FM 29th December 2016

Home, Hymn, Hum, catalogue essay by Herb Schellenberger and Chloe Thorne for the catalogue of Berwick Film and Video Arts Festival 2016
Laugh Magazine: Issue Twotwo page Artist Feature, 2016
Moving Image Artworks at the RA Schools, review, Moving Image Arts London, 2016Interview:DavidGryn,DaataEditions,ElephantMagazine,2016

Great Expectations, article by Jonathan P. Watts in Royal Academy Magazine, 2016
Art: Molly Palmer’s film stills create a surreal otherworld for us to enjoy,It’s Nice That, 2013Interview with Molly Palmer,White Hot Magazine, 2010

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Teaching

2016-ongoing: Associate lecturer, BA Fine Art Sculpture, Camberwell College of Arts, UAL2016-ongoing: ArtistMentoratTheNewFleshresidency,London

2016-2017: 2015-2016:

VisitingArtist,BFAFilm&Video,PrattInstitute,NYC,USACoaching Artist, New World Symphony Orchestra, Miami, FL Visiting Artist, BA Fine Art, University of the West of England, Bristol Visiting Artist, BA Fine Art, Kingston University, London
Visiting Artist, BA Fine Art, School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle Visiting Artist, BA Fine Art, University of Suffolk, Ipswich
Visiting Artist, BA Fine Art School of Fine Art, Leeds

DUMB

Robert Rush