Author: Jens Hoffmann
Catalogue Essay for SCREAM, Anton Kern Gallery New York, 2004

Sue de Beer
Teenage Horror
(Last Night I Dreamed That Somebody Killed Me)


Nancy is having nightmares about a frightening, badly-scarred figure who wears a glove with razor-sharp "finger knives". She soon discovers that her friends are having similar dreams. When the teens begin to die, Nancy realizes that she must stay awake to survive. Uncovering the secret identity of the dream killer and his connection with the teens of the neighborhood, the girl plots to draw him out into the real world.

Teens and horror have always made a sexy and scary combination, particularly in the history of film. From 1950s horror masterpieces such as "I was a Teenage Frankenstein" or "Teenage Werewolf" via 1980s classics like "Halloween", "Friday the 13th" and "Nightmare on Elm Street" to todayıs slasher films a la Wes Craven, such as "Scream". Sexy teens, serial killers and all other kinds of freaks and monsters are without a doubt a winning mix.

Despite repeated warnings to stay away, a group of fun-loving but none-too-bright teenagers set out to reopen the eerie Camp Crystal Lake, which closed 20 years earlier after a series of bizarre and unexplained deaths. Now someone is lurking in the woods, spying on the happy campers, and plotting a gory, grisly revenge on those who would disturb the camp's slumber.

In her most recent series of video works i.e. "Hans & Grete" (2002), "Dark Hearts" (2003) as well as in her new work "Disappear Here" (2003) Sue de Beer looked into the darker side of troubled adolescents. While the two most recent films show the horror of teens being simply misunderstood by the adult world "Hans & Grete" discloses how teens in fact can turn into little Freddys, Jasons or Michaels themselves. The work investigates the psychology of so-called school shooters and is based on the actual massacre at the Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado in 1999. A blood bath without precedent and still only another episode in an endless series of killings among teens in recent years: Springfield, Ore., Jonesboro, Ark., West Paducah, Ky. and Pearl, Miss. among many others.

A teenage girl becomes the target of a killer who has stalked and killed one of her classmates. A tabloid news reporter is determined to uncover the truth, insisting that the man who raped and killed the girlıs mother one year earlier is the same man who is terrorizing her now. The girlıs boyfriend becomes the prime suspect and the horror begins.

De Beerıs work is neither an impersonal documentary on PBS about the seemingly immoral and nightmarish abyss of teenage life nor a voyeuristic and exploitative look into the daily behavior of US teens a la Larry Clark. She genuinely combines teen subjects with her insights into teenage subcultures in which we find everything from "Hello Kitty" toys to V.C. Andrews books, Morrissey albums and elements of gothic culture. De Beer lets her characters loose allowing them what most of them dream about: to take revenge for losing their innocence and having to face a complex world no one prepared them for. The artist is doing this while exploring and glorifying the particular realities and cultures US teens have created for themselves as a counter reaction to the adult world that seemingly confuses them so fiercely.

We are taken into the world of a mad killer, Michael Myers, who at a very young age stabbed his older sister to death. Locked away for many years in a mental hospital Michael escapes one night and returns to his home to continue his killing spree.

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