Ellen Cantor

Evokation of My Demon Sister
United States/United Kingdom
° Detroit (US)
lives in London (UK) and New York (US)
"In the end, it becomes a question for me as to how actually to live with 'love'."

Whether she’s making paintings, drawings, art books or videos, Ellen Cantor always digs into herself, restlessly looking for her own truth. To reach that truth as closely as possible, she feels compelled to go against all conventions and expectations regarding her own person. Unconventional is too weak a word to describe her. It also applies to her whole way of being and to the way she works with images.

In fact, she mistrusts the image. She is truly convinced that our thoughts and values are highly dictated and formed by the media. Within herself, she discovers a lot of traces from news broadcasts, cinema and certainly also cartoon films and commercials. In Barbie London: trouble in space (2001) she relentlessly gets even with Barbie, the blonde toy with her picture perfect image that has been wandering around in girls’ lives for decades. In Bambi's Beastly Buddies (2004) she trips up the Disney empire. Ellen Cantor: “At different times in myself I feel like I'm living out mythologies from fairytales and folk stories - things we see in popular culture and movies. I identify with these stories because it makes sense in what I'm going through in my life - and also as a child, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Bambi were like the formation of me. Then I'm saying, what's the reality in this story? There is both wisdom in the stories and something akin to propaganda. It's trying to force you into a mindset rather than show how it actually is to become an adult and see what real life and experiences are like.”

Her work isn’t easy to comprehend. She often uses more or less well-known images, but mixes them up in a collage so that they become a criticism of the media involved. But that is not her only and most important goal. She selects and combines the images so that they become metaphors of her own experiences and desires. These underlying themes don’t make any it easier on us. Constraint is a theme she often uses. The incapacity to deal with love. To learn that love does not liberate, because the threshold is too high for one or the other, “something which exceeds our capacity to overcome”. Fundamental fear is an emotion she knows very well, it’s the ‘devilish sister’ that constantly bugs her and so she must let her speak in The Evokation of My Demon Sister. She evokes the fear through many layers of sound and image, mostly from feature films like Carrie by de Palma, Repulsion by Polanski, Nostalgia by Tarkovski, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre by Tobe Hooper, and even The Sound of Music by Robert Wise... Fear has many different faces.

Participating Artists

Vasco Araùjo
Catherine Sullivan
Kerry Tribe
Ellen Cantor
James Fotopoulos
Cui Xiuwen
Sam Taylor-Wood
Pipilotti Rist
Chantal Akerman
Manon De Boer
Runa Islam
Ana Poliak
Hito Steyerl
Anouk De Clercq
Dara Birnbaum
Gülsün Karamustafa
Dany Deprez
Katrien Vermeire
Honoré ð’O


Oude Stadsfeestzaal

De Garage


Manufactuur De Wit
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