Eileen

2008
Synchronised Triple Channel Installation
Colour, Stereo, 29mins 53secs

Hailed as the world's greatest medium, Eileen J. Garrett (1893-1970) founded The Parapsychology Foundation in 1951. In a sequence of vignettes Garrett is conjured up through image and anecdote in the lived experiences of her daughter Eileen and granddaughter Lisette.
Installation shot, Eileen, 2008, in Susan MacWilliam: REMOTE VIEWING, Northern Ireland Pavilion, 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009 | Photograph: British Council
Hailed one of the world's greatest mediums, Eileen Garrett (1893-1970) founded the publishing house Creative Age Press in 1941 and the Parapsychology Foundation in 1951, both New York. Eileen is a synchronised triple channel video installation featuring family members and friends and academics talking about Garrett.

Featuring: Eileen Coly (1916-2013), daughter of Eileen Garrett; Lisette Coly, granddaughter of Eileen Garrett; Dr Stanley Krippner, psychologist and academic, Dr William G. Roll (1926-2012), parapsychologist and poltergeist investigator, Dr Rex Stanford, psychologist and parapsychologist.

The charismatic and multi-facetted Garrett is conjured through image and anecdote, and video vignettes recall the 'dead ducks', 'the horse riding incident' and 'the ash manor case'. In particular, Garrett is brought to life through the descriptions and gestures of her daughter, Eileen Coly. Although ostensibly about Garrett, Eileen can be understood as being as much about her daughter, Eileen.


Installation shot, Eileen, 2008, in Susan MacWilliam: REMOTE VIEWING, Northern Ireland Pavilion, 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009 | Photograph: Ros Kavanagh
Installation shot, Eileen, 2008, in Susan MacWilliam: REMOTE VIEWING, Northern Ireland Pavilion, 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009 | Photograph: Ros Kavanagh
Installation shot, Eileen, 2008, in Susan MacWilliam: REMOTE VIEWING, Northern Ireland Pavilion, 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009 | Photograph: Ros Kavanagh
Installation shot, Eileen, 2008, in Susan MacWilliam: REMOTE VIEWING, Northern Ireland Pavilion, 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009 | Photograph: Ros Kavanagh
Installation shot, Eileen, 2008, in Susan MacWilliam: REMOTE VIEWING, Northern Ireland Pavilion, 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009 | Photograph: Ros Kavanagh
Susan MacWilliam first met the family of Eileen Garrett in October 2006, when she travelled to New York to visit the Parapsychology Foundation's Eileen J Garrett Library. Susan became close friends with the charasmatic family of Eileen Garrett, who welcomed her in to their lives and opened doors to other contacts within the fields of parapsychology and psychical research. Susan returned to New York in the summer of 2007 to develop video works about Eileen Garrett; during this time she lived with Eileen Coly. Eileen Coly and her daughter Lisette Coly afforded Susan intimate access to their world, and as such followed in the footsteps of their mother and grandmother Eileen Garrett, who supported and encouraged many within the fields of parapsychology, literature and the arts.

A number of curious coincidences occurred during MacWilliam's research, including the discovery that in September 1934 some of her own cousins sailed from Southampton to New York on the SS Majestic on the same voyage as Eileen Garrett and her then 18 year old daughter. Garrett's daughter Eileen and her daughter Lisette, travelled from New York to London for the 2008 premiere of Eileen at Gimpel Fils.

Susan MacWilliam has developed a significant body of work about Eileen Garrett and her family; 13 Roland Gardens, 2007, Eileen, 2008, Library, 2008, Psychic Edit, 2008, The Only Way To Travel, 2008, and the stereoscopes Medium's Daughter, 2008 and Artist as Medium, 2008.

The Parapsychology Foundation was founded by Eileen Garrett in 1951, who served as its President until her death in 1970. Following her death, her daughter Eileen Coly (1916-2013) became President. Lisette Coly, granddaughter of Eileen Garrett served as Executive Director from 1978 and is now President of the Parapsychology Foundation.

Installation shot, Eileen, 2008, in Susan MacWilliam: REMOTE VIEWING, Northern Ireland Pavilion, 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009 | Photograph: Ros Kavanagh
Installation shot, Eileen, 2008, in Susan MacWilliam: REMOTE VIEWING, Northern Ireland Pavilion, 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009 | Photograph: Ros Kavanagh
Eileen, 2008, featuring from L to R: poltergeist investigator Dr William G. Roll, parapsychologist and academic Dr Stanley Krippner, parapsychologist Dr Rex Stanford
Installation shot, Eileen, 2008, in Susan MacWilliam: REMOTE VIEWING, Northern Ireland Pavilion, 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009 | Photograph: Ros Kavanagh
Installation shot, Eileen, 2008, in Susan MacWilliam: REMOTE VIEWING, Northern Ireland Pavilion, 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009 | Photograph: Ros Kavanagh
Installation shot, Eileen, 2008, in Susan MacWilliam: REMOTE VIEWING, Northern Ireland Pavilion, 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009 | Photograph: Ros Kavanagh
Eileen, 2008, featuring Eileen Coly, daughter of Eileen Garrett
Installation shot, Eileen, 2008, in Susan MacWilliam: REMOTE VIEWING, Northern Ireland Pavilion, 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009 | Photograph: Ros Kavanagh
Eileen, 2008, featuring Eileen and Lisette Coly, daughter and granddaughter of Eileen Garrett
Installation shot, Eileen, 2008, in Susan MacWilliam: REMOTE VIEWING, Northern Ireland Pavilion, 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009 | Photograph: Ros Kavanagh
Poster for Eileen, 2008, solo exhibition, Gimpel Fils, London