Interview: Eleanor Oakes

008Still from Barnes Hall, 2012. Image courtesy of Eleanor Oakes

Interview: Eleanor Oakes

Luca Curci talks with artist Eleanor Oakes during Hidden Rooms exhibition in Venice.

Eleanor Oakes was born in New York and currently lives and works in the Detroit area. She received an MFA in Art Practice from Stanford University in 2014 and a BA in Visual Arts and Art History from Princeton University in 2007. Oakes has worked within many photographic communities; organizing artist lectures, exhibits, events, educational programming, as well as a regularly published photography magazine.

004Residual Loop, 2014. Archivial inkjet print. Image courtesy of Eleanor Oakes

Oakes’ work has been featured in numerous exhibitions and publications, such as “25 Under 25: Up-and-Coming American Photographers” (powerHouse Books and CDS, 2008). She was named a winner of the Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward Emerging Photographers Competition in 2012 and a Murphy and Cadogan Contemporary Art Award recipient from the San Francisco Foundation in 2013. Upcoming exhibitions include a solo show to take place this spring at Tyler Wood Gallery in San Francisco.

005Residual Loop, 2014. Archivial inkjet print. Image courtesy of Eleanor Oakes

Luca Curci – Your work was exhibited during Hidden Rooms exhibition in Venice on November 2014: can you talk about your personal experience in Venice with International ArtExpo?

Eleanor Oakes – I was very happy to have my work on display within the setting of a historic palace in Venice. All time exists on a continuum, the past constantly creating unwitting connections to our present. Having contemporary work exhibited within a historic context makes that linkage all the more evident. Of course, I also loved the contradiction of my video piece, composed of dust and detritus, being viewed in such a lavish setting; my dust reflected by delicate crystal chandeliers.

001Residual Loop, 2014. Archivial inkjet print. Image courtesy of Eleanor Oakes

L. C. – Can you talk about the artwork you presented in Venice? How is it linked with the festival’s theme?

E. O. – The festival’s themes were very tied to the work. The slow-moving video piece on display, Barnes Hall 2012-2014, was created from layered photographic negatives of dust that would accumulate on my studio floor. Indiscernibly small particles presented themselves as cosmic when painted onto film with flashlights. The resulting images harken back to the universality of all matter, while also acting as self-portraits; depicting my own corporeal presence in the space. The piece embodies how we exist within our own private space, the perpetual accumulation of dust as a measurement of time, and the tiny particles that make up our totality, while underlining our own mortality within that system. Barnes Hall makes visible the hidden nature of our being and the remains of its physical memory.

Still from Barnes Hall 2012-2014, 2014Still from Barnes Hall, 2012. Image courtesy of Eleanor Oakes

L. C. –  What is art for you?

E. O. – Art is a means of communication and expression, but also a means of investigation and a tool for research. I practice art because it makes me look at the world differently and it challenges me to ask, and attempt to answer, difficult questions.

003Residual Loop, 2014. Archivial inkjet print. Image courtesy of Eleanor Oakes

L. C. – What are you currently working on?

E. O. – This past year I completed my MFA at Stanford University and moved out to the Detroit area. After spending two years working exclusively in the studio, I’m excited to be looking outward at the world again. I’ve found a lot of inspiration in Detroit and am excited to spend the new year pursuing projects with the city as backdrop.

006Still from Barnes Hall, 2012. Image courtesy of Eleanor Oakes

L. C. – What do you think about International ArtExpo organization?

E. O. – I greatly appreciate ArtExpo’s mission as an organization. We need more dialogue between international artists and more conversations between cultures. ArtExpo’s attempts to create a global consciousness around emerging, contemporary art is admirable. 

010Residual Loop, 2014. Archivial inkjet print. Image courtesy of Eleanor Oakes

L. C. – What do you think about International ArtExpo organization?

E. O. – Absolutely. We continually need to rethink and reform how art is displayed, viewed, and consumed. I particularly appreciate how ArtExpo expands the platforms for experimental, dance, and performance arts. More chances for emerging art to be displayed on an international scale can only elevate our appreciation and discourse of art as a whole.                 

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