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Charles Stankievech

The Eye of Silence

dark abstract image of rock formations

Charles Stankievech, still from The Eye of Silence Series, 2022. Video, 30:00. Courtesy the Studio Stankievech. Collection of The Vega Foundation.

Charles Stankievech, The Eye of Silence

The Eye of Silence suggests a hallucinatory blurring of cosmic and the chthonic. Evoking critical moments in the Earth’s evolution, the work explores a series of antinomies: passages between creation and destruction, expansion and contraction, intrusion and extrusion, within and without, microcosm and macrocosm. The newly commissioned video marshals high atmospheric footage of the Albertan Badlands, the Utah Salt Flats, Icelandic and Japanese volcanoes, and a meteorite crater and cave paintings located within a region of the Namibian desert long closed off to visitors because of diamond mining. A field of stars becomes a point map of a lidar scan of a cave. At every polarity, the suggestion of a mystical inversion obtains, wherein a horizon or vanishing point unfolds to offer new vistas. An abyss, such as outer space, or some geological fissure, delivers a new world. Combining static camera, drone footage, and a mirrored screen, a churning mass of clouds, lava, and stone provides receptive viewers with ample grounds to project their own associations. Is that a face in the mist? In such moments, another antinomy is revealed—between subject and object; evidence and speculation. The Eye of Silence both depicts and implies metamorphosis on every level.

Mediating between stellar and subterranean motifs, fog, mist, clouds and smoke venting from a fresh lava flow spill across the screen. At times it softens tough terrain, while elsewhere stimulating a trance-like pareidolia, or roiling within volcanic craters. The visual dynamism of air recapitulates not only the ‘invention of the concept of atmosphere in the history of meteorology,’ but also the formation of the earth’s atmosphere back in deep geologic time—in a word, to creation itself. Eye of Silence calls forth otherworldly experience from within the depths and heights of this world, at the same time cultivating an aesthetic disposition to receive them.


– Nadim Samman & Dehlia Hannah, from “Meteor-logos” from the forthcoming book The Desert Turned to Glass: Charles Stankievech, Hajte Cantz, 2023.



Charles Stankievech, The Eye of Silence, 2023. Collection of The Vega Foundation. Directed/Cinematography/Score by Charles Stankievech. Producer: Ala Roushan. Production: The Vega Foundation. Co-Production: Canada Council for the Arts. The work is included in Charles’ solo exhibition The Desert Turned to Glass, on view at Contemporary Calgary March 2 –  May 14, 2023.


Charles Stankievech (b. Okotoks, Canada) is an artist, writer and curator, whose award-winning work has been shown at institutions including the Palais de Tokyo, Paris; HKW Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal; Kunste Werke, Berlin; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark; National Gallery of Canada; TBA21, Vienna; as well as several biennials from Venice to SITE Santa Fe. He has lectured at dOCUMENTA (13) and the 8th Berlin Biennale, and his writing has been published by Verso, MIT, Sternberg Press, e-flux, and Princeton Architectural Press. He is an editor of Afterall Journal (U of Chicago Press), a co-founder of the Yukon School of Visual Art, and was Director of Visual Studies at the University of Toronto from 2015-2021, where he is currently Associate Professor. For 2022-23, Stankievech is a visiting researcher in the Department of Architecture at the University of Tokyo.