Jennet Thomas makes films, performances and installations. She creates absurdist worlds that confound straightforward readings, in the form of sci-fi folk tales, musicals and unreliable lectures. She mines the connections between fantasy, ideology and the everyday with a DIY, absurdist spirit – a kind of resistance to capitalist aesthetics. Her work frequently explores how humans deal with intimations of impending doom. Using a collision of genres, her work can look like T.V. news, experimental film, children’s drama, or performance art and hopes to be as unsettling as it is entertaining. Her longer-form film works involve characters with elaborate costumes and props in scenarios that are clearly outlandish, yet resonate with multiple layers of meaning. The found object and the constraints of rhyme are important mechanisms in her practice, particularly in the way in which unexpected meanings are generated.
“Thomas’s critical skill lies in how her fables – fashioned, stream-of-consciousness-style, out of the detritus of pop-cultural neologism- tie everyday experience, through their use of the bizarre, to far bigger political and philosophical questions.”
- JJ Charlesworth, Art Review Magazine, 2018
“Jennet Thomas‘s films conjure delirious parallel universes in everyday Britain’s most mundane corners. People shop in Sainsbury’s, watch daytime TV and eat packed lunches from Tupperware boxes. Yet in this Looking Glass world, what we take for granted is quickly turned inside out. Preachers, teachers and quasi-political pundits with bright yellow or purple skin harangue its denizens with songs and slide presentations; the beliefs and rules they champion are full of promise, but always obscure.”
- Skye Sherwin, The Guardian, 12 July 2012
Since 2007, her work has shown as large-scale sculptural installations that physically surround the film, sometimes with continuous live performance inside these installations. Solo shows include: The Great Curdling, at Whitstable Biennale 2022, IT ONCE HAD A FACE NOW I WANT ONE AGAIN, at Zero, Kline and Coma, London 2020; ANIMAL CONDENSED>> ANIMAL EXPANDED at Tintype, London, 2018; UNSPEAKABLE FREEDOM>> TASTES LIKE CHICKEN, Block 336, London 2016: THE UNSPEAKABLE FREEDOM DEVICE at Grundy Art Gallery, 2015; SCHOOL OF CHANGE and All Suffering SOON TO END! at Matt’s Gallery 2012 and 2010; Return of the Black Tower, PEER, London, 2007.
Jennet Thomas’s works have also screened widely at film festivals, including IFF Rotterdam, European Media Arts Festival, New York Underground Film Festival, and screenings in museums such as Tate Britain and MOMA New York. In 2015 her fiction book, THE UNSPEAKABLE FREEDOM DEVICE was published by Book Works, a parallel project to the film of the same name.
She is currently Reader in Time Based Media and Performance at University of the Arts, London and was a founder member of the Exploding Cinema collective in the 1990’s, whose anarchistic, experimental film shows were generative of London’s vital grass-roots film/live art scene.