In this interview we delve into the meticulous three dimensional cast resin sculptures by Halifax artist Jessica Korderas. Film is a major inspiration for Korderas and the new work we examine is based on her recent discovery of 1970’s genre of Italian movies called “Giallo”.
Can you tell me about the process of making your work?
I have been developing my unique methods of working with acrylic resin for over 15 years creating pieces so clear they are often mistaken for glass. The process is slow, time consuming, and unforgiving. I construct and paint the settings out of illustration board, then create the figures and other images by drawing and painting each item on mylar. They are then cut out and arranged in multiple layers of resin within the piece to create depth and a low-relief sculptural effect. Embedding the drawings within resin also creates a beautiful effect where light is trapped and bent within, illuminating it and giving a sense of movement. Each piece is a carefully constructed, detailed scene embedded in a solid cube of crystal clear plastic.
How do you develop your ideas?
A few years ago I did a series exploring voyeurism where scenes can only be seen by peering through a window; the sides clear but blurry, further hinting at what is inside but denying the viewer clarity. They were each inspired by different European luxury hotels, and titled according to each respective country’s (feminine) word for “voyeur”. They were small glimpses into worlds that for the majority of people are completely inaccessible.
This series draws on the voyeurism theme and uses similar formatting, but the windows are bigger, deliberately putting the scenes on display while experimenting with different techniques and new narratives.
Voyeuse, resin and mixed media, 6″ x 4″ x 2.75″
Film is a major influence in your work. Can you tell me more about this?
Film has always been a huge inspiration for my work, and recently I discovered a genre of Italian movies popular in the 70s called “Giallo”, which is the equivalent of what we would call “pulp”; trashy mystery stories with over the top stylized violence and tons of nudity and sex. In many cases the directors seem to prioritize style over substance; the story being told is almost secondary to the atmosphere created. The willingness to experiment and push the boundaries makes these films unlike anything I’ve seen in more contemporary cinema. These movies inspired me to be more experimental within my own medium and helped me find the freedom to work a little more loosely and intuitively.
My new piece, “Drugs Sex Violence”, is my homage to Giallo films. An apartment block with huge window like display cases, showcasing the salacious and scandalous lives of its inhabitants. Like the films that inspired me, this piece displays a narrative that takes time to piece together as the viewer follows the stories unfolding on each floor.
Drugs Sex Violence, 2021, resin and mixed media, 16.5″ x 7″ x 4″
Who are the characters in this work – are they known or fictional?
For “Drugs Sex Violence”, the three different levels were each inspired by several different elements and scenes from various Giallo films. Since these movies contain a lot of identical tropes, I could use them as a base and develop my own characters and narratives within the genre.
The top floor is the ubiquitous party scene; debauchery and glamour, brightly lit with mirrors reflecting the viewer’s own prying gaze back at them. This is the most immediately shocking vignette, grabbing attention and piquing curiosity.
As you move down to the second level, with its warm glow and soft light, the viewer is drawn into a more intimate and private scene that is still on full display and tempting your gaze. While it may seem the most inviting, on closer inspection there are dark secrets hidden throughout the room.
Finally the viewer reaches the lower level, with a beam of dramatic light drawing you into the bathroom, peeping on two nude women in the most private room of a house. But it is their expressions not their bodies that quickly become the focus; is that fear, shock, anger, surprise? Follow their gazes to hallway and you see the cat has drawn their attention away from a nice bubble bath, but why? The threat is only visible from a certain angle and a certain light.
What are you looking to communicate to the viewer?
I like to make the narratives in my pieces a little ambiguous, I want people to have to figure out what is going on. It adds to the intrigue and desire to see more and peer into these windows. And by making the viewer piece together what is happening, it almost makes them complicit, it reveals the dark elements of the scene and might make them feel repulsed by their own curiosity.
What have been the reactions to “Drugs Sex Violence” so far?
When I first posted an image of the top floor scene on Instagram, I got a lot of messages asking what exactly was going on, which I didn’t really clarify because I want people to interpret the scene as they see it. This was very much the reaction I was hoping for and why it is featured at the top, where it is lit up and bright. After the initial shock seeing this, the viewer is drawn to the floors beneath, looking for an explanation in the more subtle cues offered in the other rooms.
You get a glimpse of danger, hedonism but just a taste.
Are you playing to a hidden or darker side of people?
People are attracted to scandalous things. People want to see sex, violence, drugs, blood. Giallo films in the 70’s fed on this. It was no holds barred. I like to approach my work the same way. I like there to be an element of voyeurism in my pieces. You’re invited to peer into peoples’ windows and see them as they are, at their most raw. The way they are when they think no one is watching. You get a glimpse of danger, hedonism but just a taste.
All works are available at time of publishing. You can see more of Jessica Korderas’ work on our Artists page and @jessicakorderas