Elaine Despins


Elaine’s overall (video) project is rooted in philosophical questions that are some of the most complex, compelling and necessary questions contemporary art should be grappling with. It is not only ‘refreshing’ to see an artist delve into the most difficult questions we face as human beings but it is also inspiring. As we face a ‘crisis of art’, and an art culture strewn with commodities, Elaine’s project of undoing the mysteries of existence are not to be underestimated.

Simply, Elaine questions our purpose here— and by association her own purpose as an artist. Without a didactic moment she quietly but fiercely engages the question of ontology and in Heideggerian fashion, it is only about Being and what is at the heart of existence. For Elaine, form, regardless of her media, is fashioned with painstaking regard for every detail that in turn fleshes out her ‘question’. Her work is motivated by a passion for seeking—her work exemplifies an understanding that the ‘answer’ is not the question but rather the process is. Elaine’s new series of video works is a continuation of her previous investigations into Being but from what feels like a new vantage point: an exploration of landscape as figure. Her turn from the flesh as body, from the figurative to landscape, exemplifies her understanding that Being has little to do with corporeality.

— Elle Flanders is a filmmaker and artist based in Toronto. She holds both an MA in Critical Theory and an MFA from Rutgers University. Her work has been screened and exhibited at the Berlin International Film Festival, the MOMA and festivals and museums worldwide. Flanders is a PhD candidate at York University where she also teaches.