EWVA European Women's Video Art
Eugènia Balcells was born in Barcelona, where she later received a Diploma in Technical Architecture. The daughter and granddaughter of architects and inventors, her daily contact with all kinds of instruments and devices related to vision, optics and mathematics started her off on an apprenticeship in the fragile balance between the material and the intangible, the illusory and the exact.
She moved to New York in 1968 and completed her training at the University of Iowa, where she was awarded an M.A. in Art in 1971. She then alternated between Barcelona and New York until 1979, when she made the United States her fixed place of residence. Since 1988 she has once again divided her time between the two cities.
She started out on her artistic career in the mid seventies in the context of conceptual art, and was one of the pioneers of experimental cinema and audio-visual art in this country. Her first installations, films and videos that can be identified with the critical-sociological current, deal with themes relating to contemporary consumer society and the effects of the media on mass culture.
Towards the end of the seventies Eugènia Balcells began using the circle in some of her most important works, on the one hand as a physical description of the motion of a camera located in the center of the space, and on the other as a formal concept employed in the compositional structure of the installation. This strategy can be seen in the film ‘Fuga’ [Escape] (1979), in the video ‘Indian Circle’ (winner of the Grand Prix at the 1ère Manifestation Internationale de Vidéo in Montbeliard, 1982) and the video installation ‘From the Center’ (awarded a prize at the Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, NY, 1983).
Between 1981 and 1982, on the strength of a series of contacts with American musicians, notably Peter van Riper, and as a continuation of her exploration of the relations between sounds and images in her film 133 (1979), she produced a series of works entitled Sound Works.
Her exploration of the limits of visual perception in two 1980s video installations — ‘Color Fields’, presented at the 1st National Video Festival at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid (1984), and ‘TV Weave’, presented at the Institute for Art and Urban Resources, P.S.1, New York (1985) — brought her to a new understanding of the electronic image. With this work (2006-2007) she took part in the exhibition First Generation – Art and image in movement organized by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. This show was articulated around the works and ideas of the first artists to use video in their work anywhere in the world.
In recent years Eugènia Balcells has combined intense creative activity with teaching at a number of centers and universities. In her workshops she engages with light as creative essence, integrating into her vision different forms of knowledge such as philosophy, literature, poetry and physics.
In February 2010, Eugenia Balcells was awarded by the King of Spain the Gold Medal to the Fine Arts Merit.
In 2010, her exhibition FREQUENCIES was awarded by the Generalitat de Catalunya the 2010 National Prize for the Visual Arts.
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