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Shots for an unrealized dream sequence. A. captures the beach in a bottle and confronts the commodification of her smile.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 10:00-17:00,
Beyond our will and imperatives as ‘archaeologists’, ‘conservators’ and 'archivists', there are monuments that resist the historical narrative and its accretions. Some looted and ruined, others fragmented, left at the mercy of decay and voluntary dementia, slip through the cracks of time, turning into the shivering and evidence of another potentiality ⎯ an irretrievably lost albeit living world.
Scaffolding by Greek-Lebanese artist Georges Salameh belongs to this kind of monuments. In Scaffoding, Salameh takes the viewer through some of his most significant life experiences that deal with his ancestors’ roots in Asia Minor, the repeated uprooting that has marked his personal and family trajectory, the lost cradle, and the promise of a new life in Athens.
On the rooftop of Theocharakis Foundation, the artist sets an ephemeral construction site, with the Acropolis in the background. In its twofold dimension (a monument undergoing restoration or an excavation artefact emerging from the depths of the earth), the construction site includes a marble slab with a colour image printed on its surface. Entitled Sweeper, the photograph depicts the facade of the historic refugee housing complex of Kountouriotika on Alexandra’s Avenue in Athens which, during the 2004 Olympic Games, was covered with a photographic reproduction on canvas of the Sacred Rock of the Acropolis, in order to hide from the public eye their desolate condition.
The solid marble construction site establishes a dialogue with an audiovisual projection that features the photographic work Gate (2019) and the archival short film White Middle Sea (2010). Gate depicts the Asia Minor Monument in Samos which is constructed with Ionic columns and carries engraved on its marble surface the names of the Greek cities of Asia Minor. Recently built on the southeast coast of the island, in the Strait of Mykali, just 1.25 nautical miles from the coast of Asia Minor, it coexists with the small church of the patron saint of Asia Minor, Agios Chrysostomos of Smyrna, and with the Alyki Wetlands, which host many bird species. The monument is repurposed as a monumental gateway to the future, awaiting a new beginning. Both the gate and the transition are monumental and addressed to all refugees across the Mediterranean. The stone on the doorstep reminds us, however, that the entrance is not given, while the migratory birds draw on the horizon the perpetual pattern of migration.
Based on vernacular family footage Super 8, White Middle Sea documents Salameh's first journey from Beirut to Athens via Larnaca, shortly after the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975. Ostensibly, the footage recalls the artist’s childhood, but, in fact, that latter has irrevocably vanished. ‘I have no actual memory of that period anymore. My childhood has become for me a sort of landscape’, writes the artist. To which he adds: ‘Aren’t we ultimately the landscape of everything that we have witnessed?’ The monumental fragments of collective memory of the two previous works are complemented here by a personal testimony ⎯ a testimony which, rather than fostering an anti-memorial space, attempts to investigate, re-signify and eventually reconcile itself with the way in which memory and oblivion, its paradoxical but necessary complement, are produced.
Artist: Georges Salameh
Curator: Natasha Christia
Artistic Director THF Raw: Marina Miliou-Theocharakis
Exhibition Production Assistant: Nefeli Siafaka