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Goldsmiths University

Goldsmith - Stephanie Marie Brown

Sivan Lavie sat down with Goldsmiths' Stephanie Marie Brown to discuss her graduate show

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Q: Your work has a very grotesque appeal to it. When did you start making work of this nature?

A: Ever since I can remember, even as a child I was always more interested in witches than princesses. It is something I used to try to escape from and I tried desperately to make work that was more light-hearted or wholesome. I look back at the work now that I made when I was actively trying to shake that kind of aesthetic and it is actually some of the most sinister work I have ever made. It is very clear to me now that contorting myself into a heart shaped box through my work is unnecessary as I manage to be continually drawn to the darker things in life no matter how hard I try otherwise. I've now stopped running away from it, grotesque blood I guess.

Q: The work reminds me of the likes of Harmony Korine and David Lynch. Do they inspire you in any way? Where do you get your inspiration? 

A: Definitely, I admire them both but David Lynch especially has been a massive influence on my work. His work reveals how the macabre is perpetually contained within the mundane, an irony which I stumble across in everything I do. I am interested in a lot of banal things, particularly things typically situated within domestic spaces. After living in what have to be some of London's dingiest flats, I am continually surprised at how otherworldly the mould on the bathroom ceiling looks when I look at it for too long. My influences are generally quite vast; Punk ideals of DIY production, musical subcultures, b-movie horror films, (especially from the 70s), psychedelia and sci-fi. But also things more phenomenological, cult and religion, ritual, myth and sacrifice. I think what differs my work from my sources of influence is the sheer mashup of so many of these diverse influences coming through at once; If someone were to stage a ritual sacrifice of an alien in their bedroom in Hackney, whilst listening to 13th floor elevator played over the top of a Sabbath album, then filmed the whole thing as a Vine video and put it online... I imagine it would be pretty close to something I would make.

Q: What are your favourite motifs or materials to use in your own work? What emotional reaction do you get, and what emotional reaction are you hoping for from your audience?

A: I've been working quite a lot with porridge over the last year, It's got such a visceral quality, and I have found it translates really well into film. I think it is the perfect material for my work, it has the potential to look alien and bodily, thick and dripping, almost abject, but at the same time remains such a boring every day staple food. Horror, sex and laughter are all connected in strange ways, to quote B-movie king Roger Corman, and I would definitely agree with that formula in relation to my work. I want to situate my audience on a threshold of emotion somewhere between seduction and repulsion, fear and laughter. That confusion alone often produces awkwardness within my audience, unsure of how to react. Nervous laughter, double takes. I hope my work operates on an gut level first and foremost, and can be felt in a visceral way by my audience, It is important for me, for the reaction of the viewer itself to hold the same conceptual weight as the film itself, it is in the reaction where people are forced to re-evaluate the reasoning behind their disgust, attraction, etc, and ultimately the place where the dialogue of the work can operate best.

Words by Sivan Lavie


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