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John menick
Experimental video | mov | color and b&w | 32'0'' | USA | 2020
By John Menick 2020; 32 min; two-channel 2K HD video; color and black and white; in English, Japanese, and Italian. Made during the New York lockdown, “Haunting” is a two-channel film assembling footage from several decades of supernatural domestic horror films. These are films in which domestic and residential spaces—suburban houses, decaying mansions, off-season hotels—are haunted by the spectral or the paranormal. Drawing on horror’s highly organized genre conventions, “Haunting” creates an imaginary architecture in which the repressed always returns and the past is never dead. The film’s protagonists—often played by actors now forgotten—appear not unlike ghosts themselves, their wanderings twinned across the film’s two screens in a strange, apparitional choreography. “Haunting” is a study in the spectral, as it is a response to the ghostly world that emerged from the pandemic—a world that became, for many, both uncanny and terrifying.
John Menick’s visual art and writings investigate how the fictive troubles the real. Working with cinematic history, hearsay, pseudoscience, and genre, Menick has created a diverse artistic practice that operates between fiction and critique. His earliest film, The Disappearance (2002), took the form of a fictional location scouting in Nuremberg, Germany, in order to tell the postwar history of the city. Menick’s Starring Sigmund Freud (2012) was a video memento for Sigmund Freud’s life as a fictional character in film. His most recent project, Haunting (2020), is an evocation of the long history of ghosts in cinematic horror, and how film itself can be understood as a spectral medium. Born in White Plains, New York, Menick studied fine art at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. After graduation, he was an early member of several seminal New York art collectives including Nomads + Residents and 16 Beaver Group. His visual art and films have been exhibited and screened at dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel; the International Film Festival, Rotterdam; MoMA PS1, New York; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; CCA Wattis, San Francisco; and Artists Space, New York. Menick’s essays and stories have appeared in Frieze, The Believer, Mousse Magazine, BOMB, Spike Art Quarterly, Art in America, and Witte de With Review, among other publications. His first book of collected prose, A Report on the City, was published in 2012 by Walther König and was listed by Frieze magazine as one of the highlights of the year. Menick received grants from the Jerome Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts, and has received several commissions, including from Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers in France. Menick currently lives in New York City where he is also a visiting professor of film at the Cooper Union.