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.
Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva is a site-specific installation artist working across the varied media of sculpture, installation, video and sound, photography and architectural interventions. Her materials range from the unusual to the ordinary and the ephemeral to the precious; they include organic materials, foodstuffs and precious metals. Central to her practice is a response to the particularities of place; its history, locale, environment and communities. Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva presented Haruspex commissioned by the Vatican, as part of the Pavilion of the Holy See, at the 56th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia. Recent exhibitions include: Making Beauty, Djanogly Gallery, Nottingham (2016); Haruspex, Pavilion of the Holy See, 56th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, Venice (2015); Fragility, Fabrica, Brighton (2015); Silentio Pathologia, Pavilion of the Republic of Macedonia, 55th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, Venice (2013).