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MEET: JENNI HENSLER

creative director, costume designer.

 
April 7, 2015
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Q&A

Jenni is currently raising funds for her first solo show entitled “Persona Somnia.”

According to the artist, “In my very first exhibit, I would like to invite the spectator to enter a space of my own design: a visual, sonic and tactile exploration of a kaleidoscopic, fragmented self as it merges into a whole. I will be drawing from my own experiences, but the desired effect is that this intimate personal journey will mirror experiences the viewer has had. I hope to engage people’s senses and challenge their perceptions, and I believe that this pursuit of a clearer lens into the self is innately human, and a collective pursuit.”

She will be collaborating with a local perfumer and six musical artists including Zola Jesus, Chelsea Wolfe, HTRK, Belong, Azar Swan, Drew McDowall of Coil, and MayA.

Make sure to donate to the campaign here and check out the selection of one-of-a-kind gifts.

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Name.

Jenni Hensler

Current location and where you come from.

I live in Chinatown in New York, NY. I’m from Seattle, WA

What do you do?

I am a creative director and costume designer.

How long have you been doing what you do? Why did you start?

I have been doing ‘what I do’ for a little over 10 years. I have always been inspired by music; I lose myself in it if I connect to it. I also love daydreaming and telling stories. I guess I figured out a way to combine all of those things.

I worked in music-related jobs in the early 2000s and also in a beautiful theater built in the 1920s in Seattle. I dabbled in painting and was a makeup artist for a few years — then styling, then costume design. In the past few years, I’ve started making video collages of found footage which has led me to direction. I’ve always wanted to create stories visually and music has always been a major inspiration. I like to tell the story or take people to the place that the music takes me. Music has always played a very major role in my work, and when a song is amazing — when it has that magic in it — it doesn’t even have to be that complex. Even the perfect sounds, loops, etc. can inspire me and take me somewhere.

Where is your favorite place to go for inspiration and why?

My studio, wherever that may be… For the past year it was at the Park Avenue Armory. My good friend Jason Akira Somma had a residency there and he shared his space with me. I loved going there and creating. The space is just incredible, and I loved tapping into hundreds of years of energy from the building itself in order to bring things to life. That “magic” goes into the work. For example, I made costumes for Chelsea Wolfe, Zola Jesus, and HTRK (Chinatown Style video) at the Armory this past year. I have recently moved my studio to Chinatown into an all-white space that’s now my new place for inspiration.  I believe you can make any space your sanctuary. I love being in the midst of the grit of Chinatown and mixing that with the minimalism of this space. It’s something new, and my work will go in a different direction because of this change in space.

What ideas, books, people, films, artists, etc are inspiring you personally or informing your work right now?

The idea of creating complete ambience — using all of the senses –to tell a story. I am working on my first exhibition, and am finding inspiration from within — from my personal experiences of constant awakening, personal re-examination, as well as from artist/philosophers that I resonate with like Carl Jung and Anais Nin. I am mixing the old,the current, and my ideas of the future and ‘weirdness’ to create something completely new.  It will be a dreamlike art installation.

I will create this by designing six sculptural costumes (six different archetypes) and light projections, collaborating with a local perfumer and six musicians who will each be creating an original soundscape. This will be unified as a total work of art, and I am going to use all of the senses to create a sort of psychedelic experience that enables everyone in the room to feel as close to a dream as they can in the waking life. I am obsessed with the idea of creating ambiance in a space, and uniting everyone in the room onto a higher vibrational connection using the minimal elements mentioned above. The story is inspired by events in my own life journey, forming a complete tableau of my idea of the multidimensional ‘self’.

Love this:

“In Jungian psychology, archetypes are highly developed elements of the collective unconscious. Being unconscious, the existence of archetypes can only be deduced indirectly by examining behavior, images, art, myths, religions, or dreams. Carl Jung understood archetypes as universal, archaic patterns and images that derive from the collective unconscious and are the psychic counterpart of instinct.[1] They are inherited potentials which are actualized when they enter consciousness as images or manifest in behavior on interaction with the outside world.[2] They are autonomous and hidden forms which are transformed once they enter consciousness and are given particular expression by individuals and their cultures. archetypal figures: great mother, child, devil, god, wise old woman, the trickster.”

Here are some words that describe what I am listening to right now: dreams, psychedelic, neon, palm trees, space, time, Middle East, purple, blue, green, haze, incense, opium, nostalgia.

Bands and artists I’m listening to: Demdike Stare, Andy Stott, Hype Williams, Selda Bagcan, Night Musik – Transit (a project of Shub Roy of Dirty Beaches)

Who are your favorite people to collaborate with and what does collaboration bring to your work?

I have been so fortunate to work with some very beautiful and talented people consistently over the past several years — Zola Jesus, Chelsea Wolfe, Zohra Atash, Jacqueline Castel… We have such a strong connection, and oftentimes communication between us becomes entirely sensory and emotional. We just understand each other and understand how the energy put into each project is felt on such a deep level; that all of the elements of the story are so integral in making it real. These beautiful relationships I have with these other artists have fueled me and I have fueled them. I put this energy into whatever it is that I am working on and this transference is felt, for me, on such a deep level that it feeds the connection between us. We give and take — making a very strong whole. Or it’s that kind of give and take that strengthens the whole.

Do you have any rituals or practices that help you get into the creative zone?

Light several candles. Put on a good ambient record or make a mix. Burn palo santo. Most recently, I have been finding inner harmony through chanting (Buddhism.)

If you could collaborate with anyone in the world (living or dead), who would it be and what would you do together?

Roman Polanski, Andrzej Zulawski, Jean Rollin, The Caretaker.

A film made on another planet

What’s been your career highlight?

The happiness that I feel when I really connect to someone and we communicate without words. The emotion I feel when someone is really happy with what I have made for them. Nika (Zola Jesus) once told me that she felt transcendental in a piece I made for her to wear at the Guggenheim. I love helping to create the full story and that feeling of completeness is what I strive for.. I will stop at nothing to fulfill it

What’s the most memorable dream you’ve had recently?

My throat was cut by someone who was upset because I bought the item he wanted in a store. It’s very clear to me what this dream means — let go of people in your life who let such petty things make them so angry. Find your peace and hold onto it. I should have given him the fucking thing and walked away.

Where are your favorite places to eat, drink, visit, or hang out in your city?

Epistrophy, Cafe Dancer, abandoned buildings, the weird Chinatown spots that I’ve found since I’ve lived in this area…These are my secrets and I’m going to keep them that way 😉

Tell us a secret.

I am afraid of the dark.

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