Leslie Thornton’s Contemporary
Experimental Classic
Presented by White Light Cinema


June 5th, 2009

A post-apocalyptic fairy tale for the modern age.

Now more than 25 years in the making, Leslie Thornton’s extraordinary film and video serial PEGGY AND FRED IN HELL (1984-2008, approx. 90 mins., video) screens in it’s most recent configuration. Featured last year at the 2008 Whitney Biennial, PEGGY AND FRED has morphed and changed over the years, growing as Thornton incorporates new technology into her production. Originally shown with both 16mm and video parts, it is currently exhibited as a single-channel video work.

PEGGY AND FRED IN HELL follows two children, the eponymous Peggy and Fred, as they wander and make discoveries in an unspecified future. Part science-fiction, part comedy, part coming-of-age tale, part social critique, PEGGY AND FRED stands as one of the most inspired and consequential experimental works of the last quarter century.

“PEGGY AND FRED IN HELL, Thornton’s ongoing and open-ended series, maps a surreal, quasi-apocalyptic realm littered with the detritus of a pop culture bursting at the seams. Castaways in this wilderness of signs, Peggy and Fred are, as Thornton states, ‘raised by television,’ their experience shaped by a palimpsest of science and science-fiction, new technologies and obsolete ones, half-remembered movies and the leavings of history. An exploration of the aesthetics of narrative form as well as the politics of the image, Thornton’s rigorously experimental oeuvre has forged a unique and powerful syntax.” (Electronic Arts Intermix)

“PEGGY AND FRED IN HELL is one of the strangest cinematic artifacts of the last 20 years, revealing the abuses of history and innocence in the face of catastrophe, as it chronicles two small children journeying through a post-apocalyptic landscape to create their own world. Breaking genre restrictions, Thornton uses improvisation, planted quotes, archival footage and formless timeframes to confront the viewer’s preconceptions of cause and effect.” (Video Data Bank)

Filed under: film, video