Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to eyeCONTACT, a forum built to encourage art reviews and critical discussion about the visual culture of Aotearoa New Zealand. I'm John Hurrell its editor, a New Zealand writer, artist and curator. While Creative New Zealand and other supporters are generously paying me and other contributors to review exhibitions over the following year, all expressed opinions are entirely our own.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bulgarian video

Mariana Vassileva: Lighthouse
9 June - 27 June 2009

Starkwhite are currently showing a suite of four videos from Mariana Vassileva projected on the righthand wall of the big white room downstairs. Vassileva is a Bulgarian who lives in Berlin. She is very aware of music as a means of manipulating mood. Each work has a meticulously paced soundtrack.

An elegant young man dressed in a tuxedo drives to a windy cliff facing the open sea. Standing at the edge, with sensitive hand gestures he starts to conduct an imaginary orchestra playing a concerto by Greig. In his mind daytime turns to night and he sees distant ridge on which is another person beside a car, with a torch, flashing signals in Morse code. The camera pulls back and the night-time signaller and ridge disappears. A strangely haunting work.

Traffic Police
Two traffic officers conduct busy Mexican traffic as if in their own private universes, making long sweeping arm movements and frenetic fluttering hand motions, dancing to an inner music. This comic duo seem hyper-active or on speed, jiggling up and down and rapidly waving. Very entertaining.

A young woman dressed in t-shirt, jeans and sneakers rolls backwards and forwards on the ground in time to the music, lifting her feet occasionally to pass between trees. She rolls a short distance then stops. This work reminds me of a very similar Tino Sehgal performance I saw in the ICA a few years ago, Sehgal also (like Vassileva I think) being interested in dance.

The Milkmaid
A young woman dressed in white dress and bodice pours milk from a ceramic jar into a large bowl on a white table. The milk never stops nor does the bowl overflow.

It's hard to figure out what these works are about exactly - though her images cetainly hold your attention. The first two videos show a preoccupation with signalling, in line with earlier projects Vassileva has done using mirrors. Looking for other connections, the conductor and the ‘grass roller’ have an end to their activities, while the milk pourer and two gesticulating police officers seem within continuums.

Starkwhite here provide a good introduction to this artist, someone whose work another dealer introduced them to recently at an art fair in Hong Kong. The Milkmaid and Lighthouse are elegant videos, while Traffic Police, though humorous, is absorbing due to the sheer energy the two gyrating cops provide.

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