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Photo Manolis Baboussis
Photo Manolis Baboussis

Artists, 6 November 2016, Lydia Dambassina, curator Christoforos Marinos, public TV ERT2


Most of my classical studies, the places where I lived and the persons I met, have been the driving force of my growth. So I’ll talk a bit about my life which is intimately related to my work. I believe in the “less is more” moto of the minimal art, but I am using objects that carry a story.
In my work I use installations, photography, texts, painting, motors, sound, music and lastly video. My work speaks about, nature, love, dichotomy of self, time, religion, women’s condition, politics, immigration, and about the ethic and economic crisis that we are living in recent years.

I was born in Thessaloniki on September 11th 1951.
My parents came to that city, as immigrants from Minor Asia, under the Lausanne agreements of 1923.

In 2007, I presented at Nuit Blanche, in the church Saint-Eustache, in Paris, an installation titled
“Real Freedoms that people enjoy”. I set three Muslim prayer rugs on the floor of the sanctuary of the Church, with oriented towards East and West. The middle carpet is covering by an accumulation of used, men’s, women’s and children’s shoes; And on a next column was a wooden sign with the sentance “Real Freedoms that people enjoy” words from Amartya Sen, the Nobel Prize of Economy.

Following the Nuit Blanche I did a performance during 15 days moving the installation in different parts of the church. One evening, there was a classic concert in the church and one rug was stolen.
Cobblers where kids-workers sleep on the floor, as my grandfather did in 1865 twelve-year old kid in Constantinople (Istanbul now). Refugees carry with them what they can. People migrate forever. The carpet is this portable object that goes with the flow of humanity: a symbol of home and religion, a work of art, and an item of trade.

Some people and situations inspired me and helped me progress:

My father’s lace factory, named SPIDER and founded in 1936. I watched the production on the Jacquard machine that was 15 meters high; where rose and fell paperboard with holes corresponding to the design of the lace. Thousands of white threads are aligned and fitted one by one through the needles, weaving forests of flowers, mountains from lace, black irons everywhere, the graphite made the floor shiny as black mirror, color in in the dyeing shop; and colorful skies made of hanging laces drying. I think that my father’s factory was the most important encounter of what would later discover in art and more specifically in Arte Povera.

At 15 I arrived to Lyon in a school governed by the inexorable order of nuns and at the class in cinema I discover the black and white, music, dreamlike dimension and confusion between reality and delusion.
Residing for several years in the house of Lyon Opera’s choir director, I discovered the Opera house and how the sets are put away backstage, in the wings of this huge machine.

Between the rivers Rhône and Saône, between orthodoxy and Catholicism.

At 18 I arrived in Paris.
The birth of my son Joachim.
Daily scals of my cellist partner Marc Latarjet, influences, impressions, meetings with Masters.
In my video made in 2014, 2500 words of love, the music is played by Marc Latarjet. This work contains fragments of love writings that I have received.  I did also another video in 2013, called 2100 words of love that contains fragments of love letters that I sent. I wanted to built a love story from a collage of several personal love stories, using fragments of writings, from at least 10,000 pages of letters, notes, emails and sms, sent and received.

At 21, I arrived in Grenoble.
The birth of my daughter Tania.
Diploma in Psychopathology and diploma in Sciences of Education.
Admission to the school of fine arts in Grenoble.
I discovered rock-and-roll, photography, painting, carpentry, manual labor, the vegetable garden, the mountains, the snow and freedom.
The music in the video The Lake, 2009 is written by my son Joachim Latarjet.

In 1994, I met Jannis Kounellis in his exhibition on the boat “Ionion” in Piraeus with Manolis Babousis who is his collaborator, and also I met his partner Michelle Coudray which is a living history of contemporary art. Since then every time I meet Jannis Kounellis I discover the breadth of his creative thinking and his strategy.
In 1995 I visited Germany and during six years I stayed there for extended periods
My daughter Tania studied dance at the Folkwang Hochschule in Essen Werden, Pina Bausch’s eyes have a striking deep color, Kounellis was teaching at the Kunstakademie of Düsseldorf.

In 1999, I did an installation Preservation, with the 5000 surgical gloves, a metal bed with seawater and live sea urchins, we hear the sound of a washing machine –it sounds like an airplane.
A series of photographs of thrown out mattresses and a series of photographs of german windows.
The concept of this work was done during my stay in Germany. This work is about the status of woman, confinement, and it is an allegory of the traces of the human species.

 In 1996, French President François Mitterand dies. It is the end of great politicians era.
From 1998, I am working during five years in production of commercials and feature; I received two awards for Art Direction in Athens.

Installation with 185 nooses at the Athens Festival in 2008.

In 2008 Manolis Baboussis and I are selected for the competition of The Monument Dedicated to the Holocaust Jewish Victims in Athens. The monument is composed of a long and narrow cell that inside carries a heavy double steel grid. Nine columns constituted by accumulated masculine, feminine and childish metallic moulded forms, are hung in the central axis of the metallic construction, without touching the ground. They symbolize the victim’s presence/absence. They underline the industrial extermination mode. They refer very dramatically to the Holocaust as an incommensurable loss as well as an incontestable memory.

In 1999 my grandson was born.
In 2005 I started a photographic work that I named mily story.
It consists of large format staged analog photos, 170×125cm each, (lambda c print) composed of two distinct parts: a photographic image in its entirety at the top part and a text – mostly come from the daily french and greek press- placed at the bottom. It is a little an autobiographical work whose intimacy is rendered public, and this mediation is made possible through the text.

In 2012, my exhibition entitled Party’s over- Starts over, negotiating the moral and economic crisis in Greece, among other countries, was exhibited at the State Museum of contemporary art in Thessalonki and then in 2013 at the Macedonian Museum of contemporary art – Mylona Museum in Athens.
I started working on this project when the economic crisis erupted in 2008, with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, and named it Party’s over. The disquiet was accompanied by some kind of hope that governments would start taking new measures and adopting a new economic policy. Three years later, with the economic crisis taking a dramatic toll particularly on Greece, my work was completed under the title Starts over. Inequalities are growing exponentially.

Alle Wege sind verschlossen, 2010, lambda c print mounted on frame, 170x125cm
Alle Wege sind verschlossen, 2010, lambda c print mounted on frame, 170x125cm


Gini coefficient, 2016 installation view
Gini coefficient, 2016, installation view, Yeni Cami, Thessaloniki

This work nomed, Gini Coefficient, condenses the present international situation.

It is a continuation of the work I showed you previously Party’s Over – Starts Over.
It consists of the bust of a stuffed deer, (0.82 cm height x 1.51 m long x 0.91 depth), leaning on the ground, while from the ceiling descends a metal rod – which in conclusion ‐ has a handwritten page, through the eyes of the animal, where we read in different languages that:

«The world’s 62 richest people have as much as half of the world’s population- that,s the 3,5 billion people»

And things have got worse this year than last year. Oxfam (Oxford Committee for Famine Relief) denounces accelerated possession of wealth and declared that in 2016, 1% of the wealthy would possess more than 99%  of the rest of the population of the Earth.

Deadline, 2015. Aquarium, polyester, water, pump 163 x 125 x 26 cm

Since the beginning of 2015, 3700 refugees lost their lives desiring to pass through the borders of Europe. The Mediterranean, from North Africa to southern Europe, turns into a huge watery grave, as immigration flows are turning increasingly acute. The main cause is   the global turmoil, which obliges whole populations to immigrate to escape the wars, the persecutions and the hunger. Finally, Europe is becoming xenophobic, when she should be open to the world and show solidarity. The fact is that these turbulences are fueled by the exploitation and he interests of developed Western societies, whose public opinion is fed with racist feelings of fear that increasingly lead to the abolition of democracy and the rise of fascism. Following my general work, in which I consider that the financial crisis is the basic story of the first decade of the 21st century with the growth of social inequality following a geometric progression, I present the Deadline. I built an aquarium, in which I plunged into its waters five dismembered bodies of a child doll model.

Finally, the video with THE GREATEST DESIRE resumes  all that we are living these last few years.