In his practice, Dutch artists Gabriel Lester is interested in telling stories which are enhanced by the environments that he constructs around them. His provocative film The Blank Stare invites us into the personal space of one’s gaze. The characters in the film are looking at something or someone intensely and we can only guess at what they are thinking and what is taking place in the peripheral area that is outside our line of sight. Is it we the viewers who are being scrutinized?

Through each scene of the film, we are guided into different settings in private and public spaces, but these surroundings are insignificant in comparison to Lester’s use of a cinematic gesture that directs our attention to the characters’ range of expressions; from anger, fear, suspicion, delirium and worry. There is no word spoken in the film, yet we are pulled into a narrative that is somehow recognizable, as we feel our own reactions responding and staring back.

The Blank Stare was presented during Momentum 2013 and is the final film in a trilogy.

Gabriel Lester Blank Stare 2

Gabriel Lester (b. 1972, The Netherlands) creates artwork, films and installations that originate from a desire to tell stories and constructs environments to support these stories or propose their own narrative interpretation. In earlier years, this led to writing prose and composing electronic music. Later, after studying cinema and eventually fine arts, his artworks became what could be typified as cinematographic, without necessarily employing film or video.

Like cinema, Lester’s practice has come to embrace all imaginable media and occupy both time and space. The artworks propose a tension span and are either implicitly narrative, explicitly visual or both at once. These artworks seldom convey any explicit message or singular idea, but rather propose ways to relate to the world, how it is presented and what mechanisms and components constitute our perception and understanding of it.

Artist web page


First photo: Vegard KIeven © Punkt Ø | Other photos: Video stills © the artist.