Eleanor Ekserdjian - The art of acceptance
Eleanor Ekserdjian, The Wind I, 12.3 minutes, 2020, film still.
Ekserdjian’s latest body of work is a multidisciplinary installation, combining elements of drawing, silent film and performance.
The artist projects scenes from silent films onto paper, and responds to the stimuli by sketching elements of the film onto the paper, producing a controlled chaos that matches the rhythms and underlying emotionality of the moving projected images.
The finished drawing is then hung alongside the film of the artist at work on the drawing, encouraging the audience’s eye to flit between the work and the film that details its creation.
Much of the work stems from the artist’s interest in silent film, where linear narrative, naturalism and ‘western realism’ are absent, with more visually arresting and abstracted techniques for storytelling being prominent.
The aesthetic quality of these films is a key concern in the artist’s selection of them; the use of inhospitable and even terrifying natural environments to express inner psychological anxiety became a clear point of interest.
Similarly, Ekserdjian grew up with a love of Italian Renaissance art, where sketching is a fundamental part of the creative process, with the artist working out the integral parts of the composition.
Increasingly, Ekserdjian came to view this as ‘thinking in action’, where thoughts and ideas become visible on the page, where the sketch suggests the movements of the artist's mind as they work through ideas and express them in physical space.
This matches the freedom the artist found in silent film, where a director expresses emotions through characters and visual effects, solidifying the intangible, subjective world of thoughts and feelings.
Ekserdjian’s work, then, aims to express that which is hidden, displaying the inner workings of the mind and soul for the world to see.
Eleanor Ekserdjian, The Wind I, 12.3 minutes, 2020, charcoal on paper, 59.5 x 71 inches.
Through the sketch, we see the artist’s response on paper, and in the film we see the action of responding to the world as it appears.
In so doing, Ekserdjian manifests on paper and in film the inner world of thought and feeling, offering us something unique through her expression of the invisible.
All too often we are conditioned to reject and suppress the raw power of our emotions. We prefer to be ‘rational’ and ‘logical’ subverting our true feelings so that we might appear ‘normal’.
This involves a rejection of who we are, suppressing that which we deem to be flawed and undesirable.
The worlds created in silent film fly in the face of this suppression, fueling intense and sometimes terrifying emotions, telling stories that discard the strict logic of the mind and giving way to the reality of our feelings.
Ekserdjian takes a brave step in working with these emotions to create stunning works of art.
For instance, in response to the intensity and anxiety created in The Wind (1928), Ekserdjian’s work mirrors the rhythms and pacing of the film, expressing itself with fast, frantic and sprawling sketches that play themselves out across the paper.
Such a process entails an adjustment on the part of the artist, where she accepts whatever it is that the film provokes within her, deeming it to be worthy of expression in the physical world.
Ekserdjian’s work, then, provides us with a sense of acceptance and peace, where the intensity and terror of our emotions can be related to and expressed, providing us with something that is not only true, but beautiful.
Eleanor Ekeserdjian, The Wind I, 12.3 minutes, 2020, charcoal on paper, 59.5 x 71 inches.