Jo Dery’s animations are magnificent mash-ups that combine moments of collage, illustration, digital manipulation, photomontage, puppetry, and print. She has a knack for splicing together disparate narrative genres and structures – from folklore and fairytales to contemporary current events, and she is masterful at playing with pace, sequence, and repetition in ways that radically alter the viewer’s expectations for how a good story can or should be told.
Her cinematic skills shine in films like Peeks (2009)—a frenzied, animated amalgam of jagged edge National Geographic animal cutouts, hand-drawn characters and backdrops, found footage of urban detritus in Providence, and shifts between positive and negative space. The carefully timed visual juxtapositions (and accompanying soundtracks) within Peeks make certain frames seem to vibrate with a hidden, primal energy and leave viewers wondering where the story will go next. This film was Dery’s response to her return to the city after a two month MacDowell Colony residency—an experience she credits with fostering key conversations about experimental storytelling and ushering in a new era within her own artistic practice.
Jo Dery, Chapter Three, 2011
HD video loop, wood, paper, linen
Courtesy of the artist
Photograph by Alex Dunbar