Penny who? This is one of those irresistible documentaries that introduces an outrageous, enigmatic figure who should be world-famous outside of the art world. So why isn’t she? The answer could involve her gender, which features heavily in her avant-garde work such as ‘An Exorcism’.
Using photography, collage, film and sculpture, Slinger’s work is full of sexual, fetishistic imagery – sometimes of herself. While she’s described as ‘beautiful and rich’ by her ex, filmmaker Peter Whitehead, you don’t get a sense of a privileged It Girl tinkering around with art; you get the feeling she was compelled to create. And then she tells you this herself.
Yes, Slinger is alive and well and begins by talking frankly about her lonely childhood and her expulsion from convent school. Even as a student in the ’60s, her sketches had a startling darkness and a sense of the burgeoning sexual liberation of the era. Even then, ‘any pornography was just for men,’ and Slinger set about challenging convention. Interviews with her contemporaries paint a fascinating picture of a bohemian community straining to push boundaries. If you’re in the market for an insight into liberated artistic life, you’re in luck, though this is not always a happy tale. The source of much of the hurt and pain in Slinger’s art remains a mystery, but this film is still an intriguing and entertaining insight into a career that has plenty to say about creativity and patriarchy in the art world.