For the 5th iteration of THF Raw series in autumn 2022, artist Chrysanthi Koumianaki and curator Danai Giannoglou, continue an ongoing dialogue regarding the exploration and articulation of the language and codes of the city of Athens. RSVP is a project that focuses on the immediate surroundings of the B & M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music, while Chrysanthi Koumianaki approaches the public space through its own vocabulary and creates allegories which bridge the urban fabric with the human body.
Across the Foundation, on Vasilissis Sofias Avenue, a ritual takes place, multiple times per day. The elite military unit of Evzones, colloquially known as Tsolias, are nowadays members of the Presidential Guard and execute daily missions of symbolic value, such as guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Presidential Mansion. As with most symbolic gestures, the posture, movement, equipment and uniform are specific and precise. Koumianaki “distils” these symbols that relate to the Athenian everyday life, the Greek touristic product, the national identity as well as the idea of the monument and transforms them into protocols of movement that shape a visual translation of the urban web.
With a sculptural installation and a set of rules, that will be embodied by the staff of the Foundation, the artist creates a guided experience inside and outside the building, which becomes a reminder of a constantly urgent reality where one always needs to be on guard. Sculptural elements on the terrace and the façade of the building join performative actions throughout the duration of the exhibition. The visitor is invited to navigate the space as a theater set, continuously moving between the stage and what hides behind it. Who is the guard and what are they guarding?
The artist is inventing and investigating alphabets that lead to alternative communication methods between the audience and the artwork, the building of the Foundation and its’ view. She employs geometry and periodicity as her analytical tools, in order to form systems that can be used for an idiosyncratic comprehension of our lived environment, while always remaining open-ended, as the city herself.
Chrysanthi Koumianaki (b. 1985, Heraklion, Greece) is an artist based in Αthens. Her practice investigates the idea of translation, creating symbolic systems, codings, scores and alphabets focusing on a non-verbal communication. She reconsiders and manipulates rules and methods of a global visual language, creating new narratives which reflect upon different times. Her works suggest dialogues and communication systems. In this way she often collaborates with other professionals such as dancers, actors, architects and musicians who have an active role in each piece. Her main body of work are installations combining different media like sculptures, drawings, prints, video, sound and performance. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in institutions, museums and galleries, such as: NEON Foundation, Athens (2021); Fondation Hippocrène, Paris (2018); Netwerk Aalst, Belgium (2018); Kadist, Paris (2017); Danske Grafikeres Hus, Copenhagen (2017); Benaki Museum, Αthens (2016); MENTIS Benaki Museum, Αthens (2016); State of Concept, Αthens (2016); Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art (2015); Αthens Biennale, (2013); National Museum of Contemporary Art, Αthens (2013). It has also been presented in exhibitions by museums and foundations Fondazione Prada (2017), PHENOMENON (2017), DESTE Foundation (2016) and New Museum New Yοrk (2016). She has participated in programs and residencies such as: Studiotopia (BOZAR & Onassis Stegi, 2020-22), Onassis Air (2019) and Artworks (Stavros Niarchos Foundation, 2018). Since 2012, along with Kosmas Nikolaou and Paky Vlassopoulou, she is one of the co-founders of 3 137 artist-run space in Αthens.
Danai Giannoglou (b. 1992 in Athens/GR) is a curator, writer and editor currently living and working between Athens and Amsterdam. Danai is the co-founder and curator of Enterprise Projects, a project space functioning independently and periodically since September 2015 in Athens, as well as the editor of Enterprise Projects Journal, a publishing initiative by Enterprise Projects in the form of a bilingual online publication of newly commissioned theoretical and research essays. Between 2020 and 2022 she held the position of the Assistant Curator and de Appel, Amsterdam. Previous to that she was the Exhibitions Archive Coordinator at Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art, Athens (2018-2019). She has contributed texts in catalogues, artist’s books and magazines, edited publications and curated exhibitions and programs for various institutions and organization in Greece and abroad. Giannoglou studied Theory and History of Art at the Athens School of Fine Arts, as well as Cultural Management and Curating at Paris 1 Panthéon–Sorbonne University in Paris. She was a participant of the de Appel Curatorial Programme 2019/2020 in Amsterdam and a resident at Rupert, Lithuania in 2016 and the 8th Gwangju Biennale International Curator Course, South Korea in 2018. Danai Giannoglou is a recipient of the 2nd SNF Artist Fellowship Program (Curating) as well as the Onassis AiR Emergency Fellowship 19/20.
Χρυσάνθη Κουμιανάκη, I saw some lines having small talk, άποψη εγκατάστασης, Κέντρο Πολιτισμού Ίδρυμα Σταύρος Νιάρχος, 2018_φωτογραφία_Natalia Tsoukala