PRINT November 2007


Bonnie Camplin, Special Afflictions by Roy Harryhozen, 2006, still from a color film in 35 mm, 5 minutes.

BONNIE CAMPLIN’S WORK STAGES A FRACTURED, contemporary take on the “conversation piece,” the genre of intimately scaled, informal group portraits that were popular in Britain in the eighteenth century. Like the historical painters who portrayed families and cliques in naturalistic but subtly idealized ways, engaging in such common activities as attending a hunt or a musical party, Camplin makes use of art’s double-edged capacity to fictionalize a personal milieu and simultaneously construct that milieu as a situation of meaningful communality. A close circle of relatives, friends, and fellow artists feature as subjects and collaborators in her works. Her London living space doubles as her studio, and she utilizes low-budget, demotic, readily available means and media—cut-up magazines, home video–editing effects, costumes made from secondhand clothes, props adapted from found

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