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The life of Things:
Four reflections on precarious objects


Duration: 02.11.16 - 07.12.16

Participating Artists:
Petros Efstathiadis, Giorgos Gerontides, Ioannis Koliopoulos,Nana Sachini

The group exhibition “The Life of Things: Four Reflections on Precarious Objects” explores the transition of the object from inert mass to raw material, expressive tool and artifact. At the same time it attempts to study the role of the object and its relation to ideas of precarity, the ephemeral and the everyday, through four related yet radically different approaches and perspectives. The exhibition includes works by four remarkable young artists and looks at the way in which materials describe, hinder, disturb or interfere with social norms, how they carry meaning and emerge as order mechanisms or as crude, revolutionary formations. Remnants, ephemeral compositions, readymades, industrial trash and natural objects that have suffered the ravages of time come together in an eclectic combination of materials and processes that draw on a range of associations and understandings. 

Petros Efstathiadis (b.1980, Liparo) creates sculptures and ephemeral installations with a diverse range of materials he finds in his home village in northern Macedonia. Once his constructions are build, he photographs them and then dismantles them returning each component to its everyday use. All that remains is the photograph. A remnant of the structure built recycling materials from his surroundings that soon disappears forever. For the series "Bombs" Efstathiadis built absurd playful mechanisms using completely harmless materials such as soap, flowers, lamps and sponges that however cause some sort of confusion. In his series "Eggs" he is inspired by the rushed exportation of nine containers with property of the former Greek royal family from the royal residency in Tatoi and the popular belief about a hidden treasure full of precious objects -amongst which also some Faberge eggs that were later auctioned by Christie's. The artist creates here his own version of the precious eggs on a large scale, as authentic as the alleged imperial eggs on the sense that they have been made  for a royal and have become symbols of the splendor, power and wealth of an imaginary dynasty.

While Efstathiadis’ photographs put together a fictional story based on an entirely ephemeral universe of objects, Giorgos Gerontides’ (b.1987, Athens) collections function exactly on the reverse; They produce a very precise system of preserving and databasing objects that would be otherwise forgotten or lost and which serve to portray a specific character and narrate his/her story. In both installations presented in CAN gallery (the one on the floor and the one across the display window) we come across the mysterious character of The Man in Red who we first saw in DESTE Foundation’s THE EQUILIBRISTS show at the Benaki Museum. The protagonist is storing here his red dress in a suitcase next to the inscription "Casual clothing is allowed at this job" and on the gallery floor he displays part of his collection of curious objects. In the second room a selection of delicate drawings made with dry pastel powder act as an instructions manual to the sculptural installations of ordered objects that revive the life and adventures of The Man in Red. The artist’s references are found in the way museums -and even their predecessors, the sixteenth century Wunderkabinetts- shape our understanding of history, the ways we accumulate knowledge and the way we perceive the natural world. Appropriating archaeological and other scientific methods of collecting, ordering and displaying objects, Gerontidis creates works that challenge the distinctions between an "objective" (rational) view of the world and a more "subjective" (irrational) version guided by his imagination -and thus questioning the authoritative role and weight of scientific knowledge in contemporary society.

In his new photographic series entitled ‘Primal objectivities’ Ioannis Koliopoulos (b.1986, Athens) explores the relationship between objects and objectivity attempting to define ephemeral sculptures as primal objectivities. His works combine objets trouvés such as folk fabrics, lace, a piece of flag, postcards, family photos, with drawings, objects, collages and photographs of ephemeral installations. The artist follows the same process for each of his photographs. Every one of these artworks begins with the construction of a sculpture, then the sculpture is photographed and a single print of the photograph is produced. The sculpture is then taken apart so there is nothing left -just as Efstathiadis does with his installations- the purpose of this action is leaving the sculpture only as a "memory", a “trace” and thus giving it a new existence only realized through the photographic image. In this way Koliopoulos highlights the timelessness, the stillness and the intangible nature of objects that only photography can communicate. The materials with which the sculptures are constructed come from a large archive of materials and objects which are collected in nature (such as plants, animal bones, feathers, fragments of ancient ceramics), others are  manmade tools and objects (such as a shotgun, a vacuum cleaner, a door, a tv light), others (such as bread and vegetables) are materials of everyday consumption, full of antithesis, as they tend to spoil easily yet we are used to seeing them in pictures always fresh and perfect although in western societies they may often circulate in abundance and left massively to rot. The drawings and sketches incorporated in the works are all original works created with different media such as ink, color paint but mostly burning/cauterizing and piercing. The cauterizing symbolizes weathering and decay and also in a symbolic level the "burning" of pictures in the mind. The abstract forms and geometric designs refer to the absent minded action of drawing where the subconscious takes over to reveal the spiritual. Finally, the positioning of all the elements within the frame in a particular way (even the blank spaces and gaps that are created between them) is intentional and contributes to form a network of groupings, connotations and allusions that function as a musical composition, fragmented memories, or a poem and express an effort to understand the concept of time and history. Each section of this network is connected with each other and is not an attempt to offer analysis or explication but rather set enigmas and suggest a reading the personal as collective.

Nana Sachini (b.1975, Thessaloniki) works with sculpture, sculptural installations, drawings and performance which she perceives as parts of a single system. In sculptural terms her work deals with a set of material impressions in space using a wide range of heterogeneous materials. The sculptural components in her work have each been constructed and developed through a series of improvisational gestures. The materiality of textures and colors of these components as well as their ability to be associated with or mirror the body play a dominant role here. Objets trouvés like the cable, the pillow, the long-haired handmade carpet etc. are selected because of their characteristics as objects but also because of their materiality. Besides that, these objects are often charged with a specific memory or story. Objects with such powerful physicality "remember" precisely the same way the body "remembers". There are traces of sweat in the pillow, while the long-haired old carpet -which is a heirloom passed from grandmother to granddaughter- contains a memory of female history. For the artist such characteristics of the objects which could be otherwise regarded as “intrusive” or “unclean” constitute a valuable "entry” that carries pieces of our history. In addition Sachini transfigures these objets trouvés through simple sculptural gestures. The cone on the corner of the pillow for example stands as an autonomous form but also gives the impression of a breast creating thus a kind of "modulation" (like in a musical score). The aim of these transfigurations is to enhance the sense of polysemy in the work. Art and life (inside and outside the studio) go hand in hand for Sachini and therefore her oeuvre reveals parts of both worlds. The works presented here are related to scientific, anthropological and philosophical theories regarding the body, femininity and motherhood that have been preoccupying the artist since her pregnancy. The telephone cable in the sculpture "East When It's Clear, West When It's Cloudy" can be read as the umbilical cord that connects the mother to the fetus, while the title refers to the complete medicalization of the mother-fetus relationship in western societies with respect to a more spiritual approach in the east. The work "If This Purple Is Not Made For Your Purple, The Situation Creates Suspense" has been especially commissioned for the show in CAN gallery and is the first large-scale vertical installation of the artist. The color purple refers to the color of the nipple, the inner mouth and the color of the internal parts of the body. And if the mother's body is not ready -socially or psychologically- to receive the body of the child? then the interaction created between mother and child creates suspense... The network of milky polyethylene planes connecting all the elements of the installation illustrate the milk flow that connects the inner body of the mother to the inner body of the child. Other sculptural elements lie buried or hidden, suffocating in bags, sealed in plastic or sawn into fabrics. Last but not least, the way all elements of the installation balance or hang one above the other exudes a sense of precarity similar to the feeling of insecurity felt by man before every step or when faced with a major decision.