Behind the scenes – RMIT Gallery plans its Werewolf White Night event

Jazmina Cininas, What big teeth you have, projection mock-up, 2016.

Jazmina Cininas, What big teeth you have, projection mock-up, 2016.

RMIT alumnus and printmaking lecturer Dr Jazmina Cininas will present a bold new incarnation of her ongoing Girlie Werewolf Project on the Storey Hall annex next to RMIT Gallery during White Night Melbourne (18 February) from 7 pm to 7 am.

White Night is when the heart of the city comes alive, pulsating with people of all ages who surge through the streets, laneways and gardens over 12 hours to watch illuminations, installations and interactive events.

RMIT’s iconic building – stunningly renovated 21 years ago – will morph into an enormous canvas as Cininas’ light projection with bite transforms the surfaces. In a way, it is a homecoming of sorts for Cininas.

“When I commenced my Fine Art degree in 1992, the annex served as the printmaking studio and it was here that I first fell in love with the medium,” Cininas said.

RMIT Storey Hall annex, photo by Helen Rayment, RMIT Gallery

RMIT Storey Hall annex, photo by Helen Rayment, RMIT Gallery

“In the early nineteenth century, Hibernian Hall (now Storey Hall) was leased to the Women’s Political Association, whose purple, green and white flag flew from the rooftop, inspiring the colour scheme for the Ashton Raggatt McDougall renovation in 1995.”

Cininas said that cultural constructions of women as intrinsically lupine have existed throughout the centuries, whether as nurturing mothers (think Romulus and Remus), as ravening man-eaters, or as inherently demonic. Research into such representations inspired Cininas’ doctoral research and Girlie Werewolf  Project. Four her her prints are held in the RMIT University Art Collection.

Jazmina Cininas Maddalena was a True Marvel in her Day, 2011 Linocut on arches aquarelle hot press 300 gsm paper 39.8 x 40.4 cm (image), 51.5 x 49 cm (sheet) Purchased through the RMIT Art Fund, 2013 RMIT University Art Collection Accession no: RMIT.2013.47

Jazmina Cininas
Maddalena was a True Marvel in her Day, 2011
Linocut on arches aquarelle hot press 300 gsm paper
39.8 x 40.4 cm (image), 51.5 x 49 cm (sheet)
Purchased through the RMIT Art Fund, 2013
RMIT University Art Collection
Accession no: RMIT.2013.47

Cininas’ light projection What big teeth you have is very timely in the current political climate and has global as well as local resonance.

“Where you’ve seen the most female werewolves occur in popular culture have been at times when women-kind itself had been under attack,” Cininas explains.

“The female werewolf has been far more prevalent than her relatively modest profile suggests. We see this not just in the suffragette era but also—with rather more dire consequences—during the Early Modern witch-hunts.

“The nebulous figure of the female werewolf has encompassed different, often contradictory, identities over time, absorbing changing perceptions of women, wolves, morality and the monstrous throughout the centuries.

“The advent of menstrual lycanthropes and Red Riding Wolves is part of an ongoing evolution and revolution that borrows from the past in order to create new possibilities for imagining the female werewolf.”

Jazmina Cininas Christina sleeps on both sides of Grandma's bed, 2010 Linocut on paper 52.8 x 71.8 cm (image), 76.5 x 91.5 cm (sheet) Purchased through the RMIT Art Fund, 2013 RMIT University Art Collection Accession no: RMIT.2013.45

Jazmina Cininas
Christina sleeps on both sides of Grandma’s bed, 2010
Linocut on paper
52.8 x 71.8 cm (image), 76.5 x 91.5 cm (sheet)
Purchased through the RMIT Art Fund, 2013
RMIT University Art Collection
Accession no: RMIT.2013.45

The RMIT Gallery light projection for White Night Melbourne 2017 is part of this ongoing ‘evolution and revolution’. Cininas said her images of female werewolves would provide a strong feminist statement in the light of women’s Take Back the Night initiatives as they glare down larger-than-life onto the audience, like sentinels.

“These Girlie Werewolves are going to be three stories high, and say, don’t you dare mess with me!”

This is Cininas’ first foray into light projection, and she has been working closely with an animator and technical team to translate her striking artwork of female werewolves, some of which are represented in the RMIT University Art Collection.

“Generally digital artists start with the building first and then decide what can they can do to animate the building,” Cininas said.

“Whereas with my project, the challenge is how to make these images that originated as prints work with the building, particularly with the distinctive façade of the Storey Hall annex which in turn distorts the faces of the werewolves. I want to really engage with the building and animate it in some way that makes sense with the images as well.”

Jazmina Cininas, light projection test on RMIT Storey Hall, photo by Helen Rayment, RMIT Gallery

Jazmina Cininas light projection test for ‘What big teeth you have’, RMIT Storey Hall annex. Photo by Helen Rayment, RMIT Gallery

One of the challenges Cininas faces is recreating her lupine ladies will loom billboard size over Swanston Street.

“Size is one of the technical challenges that I’m presented with. As a printmaker, I know if I’ve got to print something of that size, the DPI has got to be enormous. But is it the same for projection and what happens when you project film? Can you project normal film onto that? Can you use normal film software? So these are all of the grey areas that are outside my area of expertise, and that’s where, you know, I have other people to help me out.”

It’s going to be fabulous! Come and check it out on White Night. Oh – and for the record, Jazmina Cininas is not a werewolf.
What Big Teeth You Have

When: 7pm Saturday 18 February to 7am Sunday 19 February
What: Girlie Werewolf Project by Jazmina Cininas
Where: Storey Hall annex, 342 Swanston Street Melbourne.

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