Visual Aesthetics of Folk Horror
Character, theme and narrative are often centralised in the literature on Folk Horror; but what of its visual aesthetics? Can we trace Folk Horror aesthetics within older painting traditions and styles? The concern of this talk is to explore relationships between the Folk Horror of film, TV and videogames, and landscape painting. I will focus most intently on Gustav Courbet’s late landscapes and Andrew Wyeth’s work; along the way other forms of painting will provide touchpoints within this investigation of the way that folk horror translates its anti-pastoralism and pessimism into its visual sightlines. I will focus therefore on Folk Horror’s concern with the otherness of the landscape, nature, failed/misguided agency, and rural culture, arguing that an inherent pessimism drives Folk Horror’s ‘jamming’ of normative bucolic representations and therein subverting man’s surety of sovereignty over nature. In seeing Courbet’s anti-human animism and Wyeth’s rural othering backwards through the lens of Folk Horror, I seek to widen the scope of what we now regard as Folk Horror.
Tanya Krzywinska has written extensively on the Gothic and Horror across multiple platforms, focusing on magic and gender. She is an artist who works in traditional mediums as well as designing and researching augmented and virtual reality apps for art, museum, and heritage contexts. Since 2012, she has been Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed journal Games and Culture (Sage) and is a professor at Falmouth University, Cornwall UK in the Games Academy.
Ruth Heholt is Professor of Literature and Culture at Falmouth University in lovely Cornwall.
Dr. Amy Hale is an Atlanta based writer, curator and critic, ethnographer and folklorist speaking and writing about esoteric history, art, culture, women and Cornwall. She is the author of Ithell Colquhoun: Genius of the Fern Loved Gully (Strange Attractor 2020) and is currently working on several Colquhoun related manuscripts. She is also the editor of Essays on Women in Western Esotericism: Beyond Seeresses and Sea Priestesses (Palgrave 2022). She has contributed gallery texts and essays for a number of institutions including Tate, Camden Arts Centre, Art UK, Arusha Galleries, Heavenly Records and she is a curator and host for the Last Tuesday Society lecture series.
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Photo 1: Blood on Satan’s Claw Piers Haggard, 1971.
Photo 2: ‘Stream in the Jura Mountains‘ (The Torrent), 1872–73, Honolulu Museum of Art