Venice Biennale Diary May 28

Today Eileen Haring Woods, an artist from New York living in Suffolk, England, is showing her two-screen video piece I Look To You at the exhibition Alive in the Universe, at the Palazzo Pesaro Parafava, Venice. I head over there under an umbrella before opening up my gallery. I’m very glad to have made that effort. It’s a beautiful 15-minute work that evokes a sense of contemplation on the theme of interconnectedness.

By Claire Zakiewicz
May 28

Although it is the final week of my exhibition IMPRECISION: The Aesthetics of Failure, it is still a priority to visit other exhibits on most days, especially when the artist is somebody I know and I am able to meet them with their work.

Today Eileen Haring Woods, an artist from New York living in Suffolk, England, is showing her two-screen video piece I Look To You at the exhibition Alive in the Universe, at the Palazzo Pesaro Parafava, Venice. I head over there under an umbrella before opening up my gallery. I’m very glad to have made that effort. It’s a beautiful 15-minute work that evokes a sense of contemplation on the theme of interconnectedness. A close up of a pair of eyes is projected onto both screens, which face each other. The eyes change, an older pair, a shy pair that looks away, a young set of eyes gaze definitely, a middle-aged woman with mascara and eyeliner. The eyes are saying so much, revealing too much, perhaps. It’s a piece that causes me to reflect on our vulnerability, the impulse to hide our true selves yet our need to connect and to be seen. It’s a poignant piece during this time of social media and technological advances, which has been dubbed the age of loneliness. How open do we allow ourselves to be? A ceremonial, meditative soundtrack is played while the canal waters lap, rhythmically in the space of the palazzo itself. The piece is punctuated by a short animated interlude, which plays homage to sight, vision and communication with a 1930’s soundtrack by the artist’s grandfather, Bob Haring and his Orchestra, with an underscoring of ‘I look to you’ in Morse code. I would have stayed to watch the work repeatedly in that meditative space, but I need to open my gallery. I ask Eileen a few questions – did the people in the film have any direction? How close was Eileen to the camera? Eileen has a background in theatre and the actor’s preparations were carefully crafted – exploring the notion of trust.

The exhibition Alive in the Universe includes artists from varying disciplines exhibiting for one day in the back room of the palazzo – such as Sarah Lucas, Julian Simmons, Maggi Hambling and Eileen Haring Woods. In the front room, three monitors play short films by artists such as Scotto Mycklebust, Hector Canonge and I also have a six 1min video works, which are screened every day until the end of the exhibition on June 5. For more information click here.

I am back at my own gallery and the rain continues. This evening I am working again with the photographer Mark Edward Smith – taking more photographs of a live-drawing performance. My energy levels are low but the work goes well and I am happy to spend the evening with Mark, who is full of stories and good humour. I have written about the work we are doing together on May 21st. There is a lot more to say but for now, my focus is on making rather than reflecting.

I LOOK TO YOU Eileen Haring Woods
I LOOK TO YOU Eileen Haring Woods
Alive in the Universe, 3 screen video monitors
Mark Edward Smith photography studio

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