UCA Farnham Fine Art Student Profile 2014 – Craig Davidge

Tell us what your work is about

I am often drawn to quite dark subject matters such as horror, psychology and the unknown, yet also have a interest in humour and informative narratives. 


In my current practice I have explored the issue of the 3rd gender within the horror film industry and the reproduced monsterization portrayed through history on this minority group. 


I have explored the fear of ‘the other’ to exploit the bigotry present within heteronormative society on gender and created an informative yet humorous performance piece taking inspiration from the camp horror B movies and the queer drag scene. I formed a queer monster persona for my film which engages in a séance with the late horror actor Vincent Price, the voice of horror who was himself a homosexual. I used extracts of his voice, manipulated and reproduced it to create an informative narrative with my created personas that play out the exaggerated fears of bigotry. I have appropriated the soundtrack from the original films in all their camp glory and used them within the new framework of my narrative.

I initially wanted to create humorous horror themed photographs, but through my extensive research on the concept of the ‘camp’ factor within horror films, the discrimination of the 3rd gender within these films became so apparent it intrigued me to research into this further, particularly reading “Monsters in the Closet” by Harry Benshoff. I also became greatly interested in camp budget effects and so I started to explore this aesthetic further which developed my work on from photography to moving image because of the additional scope this gave me.


I found issues with the limitation of photography as a medium to form the narrative I wanted. Although I consider myself an intermedia artist I often create fine art photography works, so exploring film was quite a new medium for me. Also putting myself in a performance work, personalised the film to some extent which was quite challenging.


Apart from Harry Benshoff and Vincent Price what else influenced the development of your work?


From a theoretical perspective I found Susan Sontag’s theory Notes on ‘Camp’ pretty influential as theory on the concept of the ‘camp’ hasn’t been explored in great detail and it was this that developed my idea into sexuality and gender. Freud also was important, looking at his theories on the Super Ego, the uncanny and Dreams was influential in creating my video and the character. In terms of practice I found inspiration from numerous sources, B movies, films, theatre, musicians, documentaries, TV and Youtubers. But with regard to artists who mediate many of the same sources and deal with the same issues is was those who incorporate performance such as; Paul McCarthy, Mike Kelley, Nick Zedd and Leigh Bowery. These were most significant as they helped me to find away to perform a persona that was uncanny, horrific, yet camp and humorous and helped me to do this on a staged set.


What is the most significant thing that has helped you whilst studying at UCA Farnham?

I found the most significant thing to be my peers. You can often take for granted as an artist the motivation and influence others can have on your own practice, and the varied knowledge others have around you that can help develop your work. With the course becoming more very self directed, your peers are a significant source to bounce ideas off, help develop your work and keep you going when things get a little rocky.


I learnt that I can create myself a professional looking exhibition with professional work, that I am now not a student but an artist and I can produce work to be proud to show to the public. It gave me confidence in my own abilities and that I can come away from UCA Farnham independent and do it again.

What are your future plans?

My initial plan is to keep motivated in the art scene. Get a job within the arts sector that I can put what I have gained into motion and finance my own continuing practice which you can check out online.

 
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