Jessica Sarah Rinland's Electric Oil was winner of the ICA Award for Best Experimental Film at the 2013 London Short Film Festival. Jessica explains the background to the film and what she's working on next.
In 1868, Laura Jernegan, a 6 year old girl from Massachusetts, USA set out on a three year whaling voyage to the Pacific Ocean. During this voyage Laura wrote a journal about her life on the whaling ship. She mainly notes banal daily events, but regularly describes the slaughter of whales in great detail.
Electric Oil explores the possibility that a 6 year old who observes the slaughter of whales on a regular basis could, in later years, experience huge psychological and physical trauma. Laura’s allergy to oil, which subsequently triggers an uncontrollable act of ridding her skin of all materials, represents this trauma. The text in Electric Oil, written by Laura’s physiologist, examines the stimulus and the abstract imagery represents Laura’s memory.
Further elaborating on the theme of my previous film Nulepsy, which relates to a subject who suffered from a disease where he uncontrollably removed his clothes, Electric Oil looks into the causes of this disease through a different character. When developing Nulepsy, a line from Philip J. Hilts’ Memory’s Ghost stuck with me and allowed me to bridge the gap between the disease of nulepsy and whale oil. 'An itching began to coat her body like an electric oil; it became so intense sometimes she could not put clothes on at all.'
For two years I have been researching and producing works which relate to whales. I am now writing a feature length screenplay and working on a solo exhibition at LIMBO in Margate, opening 4 October 2013 called Dissecting the Exploding Whale.