An Intimate Gaze

Danielle Arnaud Gallery, London
14 January–11 February 2017

For her first solo exhibition at the gallery, Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva combines new works and recent pieces from the series Making Beauty shown at the University of Nottingham, Djanogly Gallery, in 2016.

By courageously looking, we defiantly declared: ‘Not only will I stare, I want my look to change reality.’ Even in the worse circumstances of domination, the ability to manipulate one’s gaze in the face of structures of domination that would contain it, opens up the possibility of agency. In much of his work, Michel Foucault insists on describing domination in terms of ‘relations of power’ as part of an effort to challenge the assumption that ‘power is a system of domination which controls everything and which leaves no room for freedom.’Emphatically stating that in all relations of power ‘there is necessarily the possibility of resistance’, he invites the critical thinker to search those margins, gaps, and locations on and through the body where agency can be found.
- bell hooks, The Oppositional Gaze, in Black Looks: Race and Representation (1992)

Through her practice Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva brings the inside of living bodies under the viewer’s gaze, thus diverting our attention and questioning the hierarchy of appearances and beauty. Making use of animal material, the work reflects on death and aestheticization of life suggesting a transformation of the living towards landscape. From abstract patterns inherently present within nature and the organic realm, light filters and draws upon matter and space. Here, the sculptural gesture brings fragility and permanence together towards a certain unity of the physical body, the spiritual inhabitant and its environment. The installation re-connects beings and matter through a reflection on power and balancing forces, pushing us to experience the work beyond its physical properties and boundaries, to look courageously at our essential weakness and ephemerality.

The research project was supported by an arts grant from the Wellcome Trust and the exhibition by the Arts Council England.

An accompanying essay by Richard Davey, writer and visiting fellow at NTU School of Art and Design, is available as part of the exhibition. You can read the full essay here.

The Art of Digestion: Stephen and Michael Farthing in conversation with Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva Wednesday 25 January 2017, 6.30 - 8pm

Press release (pdf)