Screening the Art World

‘Blood Lust: Art, Violence and Authenticity in Horror Cinema’, in Screening the Art Worlded. Temenuga Trifonova (Amsterdam University Press, 2022).

Drawing from long-established stereotypes, cinema envisions the artist as a fascinating and exceptional figure, a conduit for inspiration. Horror films are ideally suited to exploit this archetype, with artists compelled by internal or external forces to do terrible things in the pursuit of great art. Taking mimesis to the extreme, they turn to a long history of biomatter as a medium, traversing the nexus between life and art, real and artifice, living and inanimate. Like Pygmalion in reverse, sculptors create living statues for their wax museums. In mid-century exploitation films, the use of bodies as material is satirical, alleging the absurdity of contemporary art. Possessed by inspiration, artists are fuelled by bloodlust, violence, demonic whispers, and, overwhelmingly, the pursuit of greatness.

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