Maggie Dunlap

Our current reality is a dimly lit dystopia. Like a naked lightbulb protruding from a cellar ceiling’s wooden beam, the light by which we try to make sense of ourselves is tepid at best, scarcely illuminating our space, much less reaching into the dark corners. Our concept of time is skewed, and with it, our understanding of reality. 

Both difficult to look at, and difficult to look away from.

This is the ethos behind the work of artist, Maggie Dunlap. While one of her main mediums could be categorized as photography, her work functions more as a method of liaising, almost facilitating a psychological study of the viewer more so than the artist herself, an approach she could more freely explore while in pandemic isolation. In times of crisis, the only way out is through—but everyone deserves a little treat once in a while. Indulging her taste for taboo, the artist aims to explore her obsessions, breathing life into her darkest interests, exercising control in a time where there feels to be anything but. In an era of misinformation, we are invited to reconcile with the porous veil between real and imagined. In Dunlap’s words, “the soft white underbelly of the net eviscerated for all to see.” – Rebecca Storm

Is your work intended to induce fear?

No, my work (at present) is intended to induce the feeling of attraction/repulsion one might experience slowing down to see a car accident on the side of the road, or seek out stories of murder online. Not a fear that repels, but a sense of disquiet that draws you in. I want my work to be both difficult to look at and difficult to look away from… The pleasure of flinching and not, as Susan Sontag said. 

What possesses you to create? Do you use your practice to face your own fears?

I make things I want to see and build worlds I’d want to explore, I’m not confronting my fears so much as my obsessions. 

Do you feel you’re confronting your shadow self? 

That’s between me and my analyst! 

Can you talk a bit about your interest in recreating crime scenes, and your experience of having those images circulated online?

During the last two years, I’ve been doing various “trolls” or disinformation campaigns that I’ve released online anonymously, in non-art contexts. One of these projects has been creating my own snuff films and photos and leaking these images on sites like reddit, telegram, 4chan, liveleak, etc. as if they are real crime scenes. The lockdowns in London that kept me physically away from my grad school program forced me to reexamine my practice in the context of the internet. I became invested in using the internet and social media as its own medium, rather than thinking about it as a site for documentation of IRL work. I’ve been surprised at how credulous people are, and how simultaneously bloodthirsty and morally righteous online rubberneckers are.

What’s the scariest part of the internet? obviously.

Have you ever had any sort of supernatural or paranormal encounter?

Yes and I’m dying for more.