_Born Stamford, Connecticut
Lives in New York

Little David, 1999
Digital video (color, sound), 3'55''
Courtesy of the artist

view a sequence 410 KB

You're Gonna Be My Woman
, 1997-2000
Digital video (color, sound), 4'25''
Courtesy of the artist

view a sequence 3100 KB


Sari Tervaniemi*

Underneath the macabre horror film and heavy-metal surface of Piene’s videos lies the social awareness of art and Piene’s conviction that art can make a change for the better. For her, it is essential that her works are based on a reality of which she has firsthand knowledge. This is why she started to correspond with a prisoner to whom staying alive under the extreme conditions of a prison is daily life, instead of using for example films as background material on prisons.

The Little David video takes place in the evening. A little boy is shadowboxing on the grass, threatening to beat up his opponent. The boy is restless, his aggressiveness now serious, now comical. You laugh at the comical and immediately feel a pang of doubt; is the boy really deranged or is he just fooling around? Piene highlights the dark side of innocence which is cruelty. Or is the boy going through a phase where violence is his guide from innocence to power? (..)

Chloe Piene is interested in extreme forms of power and survival. In You’re Gonna Be My Woman a bestial woman is cornered but not defeated by the video camera which takes the role of a surveillance camera, representing power which the woman furiously challenges with her behaviour. She will not accept the camera’s or viewers’ power over her, and her instincts drive her to intimidate, a direct and basic form of using power. The woman lashes out at her inferior.

* Curator, Helsinki City Art Museum


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