Pandemic Projects: Elise Vazelakis
April 16, 2021
My current artwork is about the isolation, monotony and chronic stress that has been brought on by the global pandemic. For me personally, the distortion of time has been both challenging and inspiring. The shape of days, weeks and months over this past year sometimes seemed to be condensed and at other times stretched out. Life has felt like a time warp where everything both stood still and was simultaneously in chaos. Home confinement erased the markers I relied on to keep track of time and life felt like it was hanging in a perpetual state of suspension.
I began to create art that illustrated the repetitiveness of the days and months. Pandemic Time Warp is 200 feet of 1/4 inch clear tubing wrapped with black and red 7-ply waxed linen. Hand written and typed messages were placed between the fiber and the tubing core, expressing the various emotions that arose. After working on the piece for the day, a portion of the tubing was left empty in order to impose an artificial endpoint to each day.
In conjunction with the physical piece, I composed an audio component. The 100 feet of the tubing was measured and, in collaboration with a musician, each segment of the piece was then indexed and mapped into an audio representation. The measured information translated to two unique sounds depending on the wrapped color: red or black. Each of the sounds played gives the piece movement, evolving with time just as it is reflected visually.
At the same time I began working on another textile installation that visually conveys the experience of time. The passing of time is usually thought of as linear, however this installation serves as a visual metaphor for the ways that memories convolute and warp our perception of time.
The sole material used was metallic gold thread representing life’s most valuable commodity: time. This delicate medium communicates how time is fragile, elusive, finite and precious. As the cascading thread emerges and dissolves, it becomes a visual parameter of how time is always present, yet often unseen and slips away.
The fourteen cones of thread are hung by monofilament enabling the 70,000 yards of thread to fall freely off the spools and cascade to the ground. At times the thread moves slowly, in other moments quickly and periodically it stands still and stops all together. The amassed thread on the ground represents the layered memories that create and distort the perception of time.
As Luchita Hurtuda says, “Artwork is a diary. It’s really notes on your living”. I believe that this body of work is a reflection of the infinite time loop experienced during this pandemic, as well as a diary of my emotions. Through these pieces, I have created a language that expresses what time has meant to me and how it continues to change over the course of this pandemic.
–Elise Vazelakis has shown in Los Angeles, Santa Fe, Toronto, Chicago, Phoenix, San Francisco, New York, Austin, Dubai, and elsewhere. Her work is in private and public collections, including Faisaliah Resort in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. She is currently working towards her MFA in Fibers from California State University Long Beach (2023).
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We know that this past year has been very trying and traumatic for so many people around the world. While we want to spotlight the work our members have been doing throughout the year, I (Lauren Sinner, SDA Managing Editor) wanted to take a second to say that it’s also ok if you haven’t been making work. The pandemic is not an artist residency, and you shouldn’t be expected to make great work during this time. There’s so much to process and deal with and it never seems to end, so please remember to take care of yourself, both mentally and physically.