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Sam Jury: forever is never

Since graduating from Cornell with an MFA in 1998, British artist Sam Jury has broadened her painting practice by introducing photography and video. Interested in the gaps and fissures between still and moving pictures, painting and film, Jury explores how they mediate between reality and imagination. Questioning in this way our contemporary take on realism, Jury creates images that are hauntingly mysterious.

Jury’s photographic work is populated with either close-up, oversized heads or minuscule figures in vast landscapes, lending it a somewhat dystopian yet nostalgic feeling. Even though Jury abandoned painting completely over two years ago, her video and photographic works are clearly influenced by it, undergoing a similar layering process that painters employ. In her most recent work, for instance, Jury shot landscapes through layers of screen. The layering becomes especially obvious in Jury’s video editing techniques.

forever is never is the first video work Jury ever made, an approximately six-minute long single-channel piece from 2007. It developed during the production of a series of photographic portraits: in a labor-intensive process, Jury projected hundreds of composite portraits, culled from historical as well as contemporary sources, onto a sculpted blank head. Using a kind of stop-frame animation, these closely related stills were then reused to create forever is never, depicting a virtual portrait that is no one and everyone, continually in flux. Almost imperceptibly morphing into a rhythm akin to breathing, the projected video shifts between futuristic and Vermeer-like painterly images, seemingly suspending the spectator in an ambiguous space of places and experiences remembered and imagined.

Andrea Inselmann
Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art