Eleanor Ekserdjian: Control and the loss of
Eleanor Ekserdjian, I Know Where I'm Going, 13.3 minutes, 2020, film still.
In the freedom that is created by Ekserdjian’s response to stimuli there is a loss of control; a willingness to allow this hidden world of thoughts and feelings to express itself upon the paper.
The challenge arises in attempting to create something of artistic merit, whilst not allowing those ambitions and desires get in the way of what it is that needs to be expressed.
The reverse remains true for this proposition as well - to not let the sheer spontaneity completely outweigh the aesthetic ends to which the artist is moving.
In encountering Ekserdjian’s work, we enter into a space of controlled chaos, where that which needs to arise can, but that arousal is directed towards an aesthetic objective.
Ekserdjian compares her process to that of Cartier Bresson’s, who would square the image perfectly, and await for an event to arise before capturing it.
- Eleanor Ekserdjian, Work in Progress, Studio View, 2020
In the same manner, Ekserdjian will prepare the necessities of the work in advance, selecting the material to work with, the length of time to complete the work and the specific subject matter.
It is this preparation that composes the structure, or bedrock, of the work, allowing the elements of chance and freshness to be captured appropriately.
This careful play between expectation, preparation, spontaneity and chaos already has a history in the mediums with which Ekserdjian chooses to work.
The practice of sketching is an instant response to the world, allowing the patterns and rhythms of the artist’s mind to flow out into the world.
Similarly, the directors of the silent films to which Ekserdjian is responding allow themselves to be uninhibited in their expression of ideas and emotions.
However, it would be foolish to suggest that these artists “simply express themselves”. There is an element of control in the diligence and respect with which they treat their craft.
They are not simply doing for the sake of doing, but honing their skills and setting the conditions so that something special might then occur.
The very essence of Ekserdjian’s inspiration, then, seeks to have just the right amount of control, where the artist is invested enough to provide the perfect backdrop for the spontaneous nature of her art to be expressed.
A lecturer in philosophy once said to me that he believed all great works of art have some sort of moral significance to be communicated to the world.
If that is the case, then Ekserdjian’s work acts as an inspiration to all of us trying to live our daily lives in pursuit of some goal.
We must care enough to practice and dedicate ourselves to a particular skill or craft, setting the conditions so that the cut and thrust of chance and chaos has a space to be received.
However, we must ensure that we relax our ambitions of what we want, so that we can effectively respond to the spontaneous rhythms of the world around us and allow something pure and unique to arise.
Ekserdjian is a master of this playful balance and her drawings are works of wonder, standing out as a shining example of the astounding things that can happen when we learn to set the conditions just right and relinquish control.
- Eleanor Ekserdjian, Studio View, Projection on Paper, 2020