Venetia Kapernekas Gallery is pleased to present Tomorrow, a new project by Lydia Venieri. For this work, the artist projects a four-minute video and a series of four photographs: archival inkjet on satin.
Tomorrow is a video featuring deers staring at an exploding sky while singing an altruistic and nostalgic song of friendship called “Tomorrow”. The deers are chosen for their symbolic representation of suburban innocence and sacredness like the soul of a burnt forest. In the background, the night sky is lit up not by fire works, but by a deadly rain of phosphor bombs illegally dropped on the Gaza and Iraqi population.
While the deers sing “Tomorrow”, Lydia Venieri adds a track of a young Israeli soldier’s voice. Although the soldier is defending his country in war, his conscience forces him to denounce the use of phosphor bombs, exemplifying the artist’s search for the embodiment of global human conscience.
The series Phosphor Stars in White Nights is derived from the video Tomorrow, where Venieri uses the allegory of the images of the deers with their wide open eyes, beating hearts and standing ears to continue her exploration of fear as transmitted and disseminated through the information apparatus of the media. In background, Gaza appears as if from a scene of One Thousand and One Nights. In war’s nefarious festivity, Venieri plays again with juxtapositions: drawing her audience in with the dolls’ extreme innocence, then without mercy, taking them down the wrong path of the fairy tale where the dream becomes a nightmare.
Venieri is well known for her evocative sculpture installations, bridging mythology with current events. She combines humor with self-reflection on the human condition of our times, through characters taken from mythology, history, fairy tales and her daily life. In Venieri’s stories, dreams reinforce reality and reality reinforces dreams.
For the past eight years, Venieri has been using images of genocide, suicide bombings and the devastation caused by war pulled directly from the headlines of CNN and other news outlets to create hyper-realistic photographs. The constructed photographs engage viewers in a world addressing technology and human perception, in relation to the dissemination of images and information. Her work delves into the political, borders on the poetic, saturated with absurdity that leaves the viewer with plenty of questions and yet no concrete answers. Her work questions the media’s distortion of reality by how images of war and terror are represented, as she juxtaposes the photographs of war with seemingly naïve images of children’s dolls. The power of imagery in her work, War games (2005) is in the eyes of the children. In these impressive series of photographs, Venieri softens the intensity by projecting and printing the photographs on a fine silk surface, (archival inkjet on satin) a media that New York print studio Duggal pioneered.
The serene dolls volunteer themselves to our gaze, beckoning the viewer to approach in an unguarded and vulnerable manner. Venieri digitally positions the hyper-realistic photographs within the dolls’ eyes, delivering a potent punch of terror upon further inspection. The viewer’s feelings change in an instant; it is the shock of a candy that turns out to be a bitter pill. Captured inside the reflections of the haunting gaze of these innocent, empty dolls, together they create a mysterious relationship between two conspicuously diverse visual worlds. The use of toys and reference to children both common contemporary strategies, represent in her case not a twisted fairy tale or disturbed childhood. Instead, they proffer the optimism and ideals needed to overcome disaster and hardship.
New York based artist Lydia Venieri was born in Athens, Greece. She studied at the Ecole Nationale, Superieure Des Beaux Arts in Paris where she built her early career and was awarded the Academic Francaise de Paris Medal for Sculpture in 2004. She has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions including the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris, France (1987), the Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece (2004), the Centre for Contemporary Art in Dordrecht, Netherlands (2001), the Elliniki Ethniki Pinakothiki (National Gallery of Greece) in Athens, Greece, the Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, Spain (1992), the Biennale de Cannes et Barcelone in Barcelona, Spain (1989), the Terra Tokyo Gallery in Tokyo, Japan (2008). This past May, her work See No Evil was part of the New York Public Library’s exhibition series Art in the Windows. The work was shown at the Mid-Manhattan branch, curated by Arezoo Moseni and presented by Douglas Maxwell, a curator and assistant professor at New York University.
Currently she shows her work with Vanessa Quang Gallery in Paris, Stux Gallery in New York and Terra Tokyo Gallery in Tokyo.