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Eloise Fornieles

Eloise Fornieles, Senescence, 2007, C-type print mounted on aluminum, gold leafed branches, 35.46x45.31 inches; Courtesy of the artist

Anglo-Argentine artist Eloise Fornieles is increasingly recognised for performances which combine physically demanding rigour with an accent on strikingly suggestive, almost dream-like visuals.

The 2007 Senescence, for example (above), featured a spot-lit four-poster bed with a dead willow tree rising from its centre.

On it, Fornieles lay for three days in a tranquiliser-induced sleep, strings attached from her limbs to the tree causing it to gently stir with her movements. A vintage gramophone horn suspended above her head was used to receive whispered, dream-infecting messages from the audience.

Eloise Fornieles

Communication - often initiated via unconventional or eliptic means - is one of several recurring devices in the artist's work; a strategy which not only engages audiences, but prompts them to reflect on various themes and issues.

Fornieles' recent The Message (2012, left) saw the artist circling a mound of chalk topped by a wooden crate for five hour periods over a total of seven days, each trajectory consisting of exactly 24 steps.

As she walked, she received written notes from the audience detailing their hopes and fears. These were then secreted inside the crate, which also contained a hidden effigy of Mercury the messenger god. At the conclusion of the performance, the crate and its contents were ceremonially burnt.

For the 2009 A Grammar of Love and Violence Fornieles remained silent throughout the show's duration, communicating with visitors through written notes alone. And for From the deep waters of sleep (below) - a 2007 work inspired by Dutch performance artist Bas Jan Ader's presumed death at sea - the artist took messages from the audience then broadcast them in Morse code; a process rendered increasingly difficult as she attempted to remain awake for the 48 hours during which the piece was performed.

Eloise Fornieles
Eloise Fornieles

Other, more provocative, themes equally inform Fornieles' practice. Her interest in examining "violence and the aesthetics of violence", for instance, is exemplified by the 2008 Carrion, (left) in which - in a space resembling a wall-less house - the artist performs a complex ritual of dressing and undressing whilst hacking at a suspended animal carcass. (This piece also involved a form of message-taking, with notes collected from the audience read, then pushed into incisions in the hanging flesh).


Other works focus more directly on interests such as "intimacy" and "understanding the body" via enactment of arduous, physically demanding tasks performed nude before an audience.

Eloise Fornieles

In Wanderlust II (2010, left), for example, Fornieles walked on a treadmill in a lace-draped room from dawn until dusk, a cord running from her mouth attached to a rocking horse positioned in an adjacent room.

Initiating a kinetic sequence with the body at its centre, the mise en scène seems equally redolent of childhood innocence, voyeurism and femininity - an oddly heterogenous yet compelling assemblage of impressions.


September 2012


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