Conversation Starter

When is fear friendly?

Why might artists use existing Hollywood genres, like horror, slasher, or murder mystery, to create new narratives? What do these new narratives suggest?

Embracing a playful “anything goes” aesthetic, Jaimie Warren recreates a wild array of pop culture characters in photographic and video work. Coming of age in Wisconsin in the 1980s and 1990s, Warren learned to love the out-sized personalities and distinct looks of “weirdos” like Freddy Krueger, Miss Piggy, Grace Jones, Elvira, and Dolly Parton. Inspired by do-it-yourself Halloween costumes, Warren’s photographic work evolved from impromptu goofs to more elaborately art-directed portraits.

“I especially like the grosser or weirder the character is or the further it can be from me,” explains Warren, “but using my own characteristics and changing them, not just covering myself up with a costume.”

Dan Herschlein’s unsettling sculptures of headless figures, backlit windows, and lonely suburban tableaus evoke darkness and fear as a means toward emotional understanding. Herschlein recalls the feelings of aloneness and alienation that growing up in his hometown evoked, channeling those emotions into the work and explaining his interest in the voyeur as “somebody who feels outside of the equation.”

“What people deem to be creepy, categorize as horror, that’s the language, or the genre that I’m working within,” he says.

Can horror comfort us? When are elements of horror films reminiscent of softer emotions?