Why horror is cathartic

by Kitty Drake in February 2021
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Art & design

Cura is a magazine about artists and curators. The cover of this issue shows Midtown Manhattan on a day in the not-too-distant future. It is a still taken from the short film Adaptation, by the filmmaker Josh Cline. The ocean has risen thirty feet, completely flooding the island. Inside we see other stills: skyscrapers reflected oozily in the water; a water-logged office; a scuba diver climbing off a boat. Cline is interviewed in the magazine, and explains that the intention behind the film was to make viewers “think about their own futures — to feel a kind of nostalgia in advance for the world we live in now.”

Dread about the future is a theme of this issue. One striking double-spread shows a deserted hotel complex, lit up with the date, “2065”. This is a virtual world created by the artist Lawrence Lek, who imagines the metropolises of London, Hong Kong and Singapore as spooky, sanitised dystopias. One still shows a hologram-like, pixelated pop star, performing to an empty stadium.

Horror is another topic that recurs on these pages. The artist Marianna Simnett’s work is featured and it is wonderfully gruesome. We see rodent genitals, and teeth, and bloody beaks. Recently, Simnett has been filming horse “coverings”: stallions kept in a box so that hundreds of mares can be brought in to them to sire. One mare resisted the stallion, and the images are violent, and at the same time, beautiful. In conversation with fellow artist Ed Fornieles, Simnett talks about starting each morning by watching a horror movie. As Fornieles puts it, horror is “oddly cathartic in these times. It’s comforting to give anxiety a form.”


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