Brooklyn Artist Jenny Perlin Debuts Three New Bodies of Work at Pitzer College Art Galleries

Jenny Perlin: Maelstrom
Jenny Perlin, Maelstrom (2021), 16mm hand-processed high contrast film, black and white, sound, 5:10

Claremont, CA—Pitzer College Art Galleries is pleased to present Jenny Perlin: Maelstrom, a solo exhibition of Brooklyn-based artist Jenny Perlin that examines the upheavals and uncertainty of the contemporary moment through historical and literary frameworks.

Taking its title from Edgar Allan Poe’s short story Descent into the Maelstrom (1841), the exhibition features three new bodies of work: Maelstrom (2021), a 16 mm film; 100 Seconds to Midnight (2021), a series of forty-six black and white photographs; and Bunker (2021), a full-length feature film.

“Jenny’s referencing of Edgar Allan Poe’s dizzying narrative about a ship caught in an extreme weather event acts as a critical and poetic lens through which to understand the present and is palpably felt,” states curator Ciara Ennis.

Poe’s story recounts a terrifying tale of a ship pulled into a monstrous whirlpool near the Lofoten Islands in Norway, which is narrated from a rocky mountain overlooking the sea. The vertiginous framing and the storyteller’s dizzying tale plunge the reader into the detailed horror of the experience, which Perlin captures in her 16 mm film. In addition to hand-drawn whirlpools and floods, the film includes images from a storm-tossed ferry ride in New York harbor—just before the COVID 19 pandemic arrived on those shores—which suggest a loss of mooring and a desire for the unknown. Poe’s writings during the turbulent, unstable period of early 1800s America hold a mirror up to our own.

100 Seconds to Midnight (2021) comprises photographs of houses with underground bunkers built in the Los Angeles area between 1940 and 2021. The title refers to the current setting of the Doomsday Clock, invented by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists in 1947 after the bombing of Hiroshima. The clock, originally set at seven minutes to midnight, represents global proximity to human-created catastrophe. The current setting of 100 seconds to midnight is the closest the clock has ever been to the hour of reckoning.

The related feature film Bunker (2021), which will be screened in conjunction with the exhibition, examines the phenomena of people who sell subterranean living space and those that live underground. Bunker depicts the crafting of exclusive underground shelters across the U.S. and the conversion of missile silos into subterranean skyscrapers, whose high-end condos sell for millions of dollars.

The exhibition, curated by Pitzer College Art Galleries Director Ciara Ennis, is a collaboration with The Claremont Colleges Library and will be on view from September 11 through December 11, 2021. A satellite exhibition of Perlin’s related prints will be on view at the South Entrance hall of the Library.

Special thanks to The Claremont Colleges Library and Rakish Light press for their help with this exhibition.

About the Artist

Jenny Perlin is a Brooklyn-based artist working in film, video, installation, and drawing. Her film projects draw on interdisciplinary research interests in history, cultural studies, literature, and linguistics while using technical innovation to investigate history and how it relates to the contemporary. She shoots in both 16mm film and digital video and combines live-action, staged, and documentary images with hand-drawn, text-based animation.

Her films have been shown as single-channel works and multi-channel installations at numerous venues including the Guggenheim Museum,  the Whitney, MoMA, Mass MoCA, the Guangzhou Triennial, IFC Center, Berlin and Rotterdam film festivals, the Drawing Center, and The Kitchen, NY. Support has come from the LEF Foundation, NYSCA, Experimental Television Center, CEC Artslink, American Center, Geneva, and the Arnold Foundation. Artist residencies include IASPIS Sweden, Wexner Center, Civitella Ranieri, ISCP, and commissions from Bard College CCS, Aldrich Museum, BAC Geneva, The Queens Museum, and Expo 02, Switzerland.

She received her BA from Brown University in Literature and Society (Modern Culture and Media), her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Film, and completed postgraduate studies at the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York.

Perlin’s work is in public collections including MoMA, The Whitney Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Seattle Art Museum, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and numerous private collections.

To Visit

To visit Jenny Perlin: Maelstrom please make a reservation. The exhibition is open by appointment for groups up to 4 people for one-hour visits. Appointments are offered Tuesday through Saturday, at 1, 2, 3, and 4 pm.

About Pitzer College Art Galleries

Pitzer College Art Galleries believe in the power of art to inspire, engage, and transform. The Galleries’ exhibitions and programs facilitate inquiry into contemporary and historical issues of importance and reflect Pitzer College’s core values of social responsibility, intercultural understanding, interdisciplinary learning, and environmental sustainability. With a focus on inclusivity, we seek to expand and deepen our understanding of the world around us. Through collaborations and partnerships with artists, and the Pitzer community, we facilitate meaningful engagement across multiple constituencies and disciplines.

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility, and community involvement. For more information, please visit

About Pitzer College Art Galleries

The Pitzer College Art Galleries’ mandate is Education and Advocacy through the Pitzer College core values—social responsibility, intercultural understanding, interdisciplinary learning, student engagement, and environmental sustainability. By following these precepts, Pitzer College Art Galleries engage and interrogate contemporary and historical issues of importance to expand our audiences’ understanding and contribution to our artistic, intellectual, and social culture. Through curatorial creativity and innovative programming, the Galleries seek to provide context, support, and a critical framework for artists and curators working today and, by doing so, inspire meaningful dialogue that fascinates, excites, and invigorates.

For more information, please visit or email [email protected].

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