Emma Rendel's Pentii and Death Girl
12 March, 2009
Crazy Swedish genius Emma Rendel's new book Pentti and Death Girl has been published by Jonathan Cape - also have a look at her new comic strip in the magazine Art Review.
Journalist Paul Gravett says:
For her new tragi-comedy Pentti, she draws on two of her deepest Finnish influences, film-director Aki Kaurismäki and Tove Jansson, the woman behind the Moomins, especially her vividly detailed textures and landscapes. Pentti is a closeted farmboy who starts drunken brawls with the men he fancies, to him the only acceptable way for men to touch each other. Aroused by such close physical contact, he leaves his number with his victim but is let down again when a phone call from him never comes. Pentti's repression and guilt warp into violence against two neighbouring farmers whom he spies in their lovenest, only the latest targets of his killings which his loyal brother helps him to bury.
Rendel plays here with common Swedish misperceptions of Finns as taciturn, boozy and aggressive, and with traditional ideas of manliness, making arms, legs, buttocks exaggeratedly muscular, while hands, feet and ears are tiny, the torso like a barrel, the penis always visible. These distortions subvert the cocky confidence of Tom of Finland's macho gay icons and more generally challenge the rituals which society expects men to adopt. All of Rendel's painfully "awkwardist" characters expose how society's rules can trap anyone in cycles of conformity and self-denial.