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Shots for an unrealized dream sequence. A. captures the beach in a bottle and confronts the commodification of her smile.
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Immersive new exhibition and architectural project by artist Alessia De Pasquale in collaboration with architect Dionisis Sotovikis
As part of Open House Athens (1-2 April 2023), Alessia De Pasquale opens the doors to a residential apartment in the heart of the Kipseli neighbourhood, Athens. Once home to revolutionaries and prime ministers, Kipseli was redeveloped in the 1930s and became one of the first sites for modernist architecture in Greece. In recent years it has become popular and begun to be rebuilt again, by a new influx of Greeks and foreigners of a new generation - De Pasquale, who is Sicilian by origin, among them.
The apartment is presented as an artefact: a home built in 1960 that has changed hands through different families over time, imbued with its own layers of a private history. The renovation is the result of a yearlong collaboration between De Pasquale and the pioneering Greek architect, Dionisis Sotovikis. Merging the artistic language and expressions of De Pasquale with Sotovikis' notions about sentimental structuring and building time, they challenge the traditional idea of home and its components. The design is playful and raw, the new shape of the space contrasting with parts that have been stripped away to make the previous owner's decisions visible like scars – from the old wallpaper and paint to the original flooring.
The apartment also becomes a stage for a new body of works, including sculptures, art objects, installation, video and an interactive piece by De Pasquale. Each series explores different notions of home and belonging, moving from personal memories to collective ideas of home and belonging as a physical and psychological space. The exhibition's fundamental question is how do we find a sense of home within ourselves, beyond the bricks and mortar of a house?
A series of terrazzo sculptures examines the intertwined relationship between domestic architecture and the self. Commonly comprised of fragments of marble, quartz, granite, glass, terrazzo was first used in Venice in the 15th century, and is common throughout residential architecture in Greece, as well as in De Pasquale's native Sicily. The series serves as a material memory of home, tracing a history between Greece and Italy, between the grandeur of Venetian architecture to the humble familial setting. The terrazzo's composite form, meanwhile, evokes the way a unified sense of home is often constructed from disparate strands, times, and places.
A further series of sculptural objects using glasses - their lens pierced and punctuated - alludes to De Pasquale's own journey 'home'. They form a taut tension with other works, such as a mirrored installation on the apartment's balcony, that recreates a game De Pasquale played on the balcony of her childhood home. Visitors are invited to walk on a reflective surface, evoking a feeling of escape. Ideas of sanctuary and prison are equally suggested in De Pasquale's choice of materials across other works, from mirrors used in an artist's book and glass, to brutal everyday objects such as nails and concrete that recall the aesthetics of Arte Povera.
Evocative, playful, and at times disturbing, HOME is an intimate and provocative interrogation of the individual, introspective journey to create a sense of belonging in an unstable and ever-changing world. As James Baldwin proposes in his 1956 novel, Giovanni's Room: "perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition."
Alessia De Pasquale is an interdisciplinary artist and creative director based between London and Athens. An MA graduate of Central St Martins, De Pasquale was previously an in-house menswear designer at renowned British fashion houses Paul Smith, Burberry and Aquascutum. In 2015 she established her own independent art practice, exploring experimental design and alternative artistic dialogues. De Pasquale is also a lecturer at Marangoni Institute of Fashion Design, London. At the core of her work is often a sense of ambivalence, and a collision of brutality and beauty.
Dionisis Sotovikis was born in Athens in 1970. Between 1991 and 1996, he studied Architecture at the Architectural Association (AA) in London, under professors such as David Racz, David Turnbull and Kisa Kawakami. Since 1999, continuing a three-generation family tradition in the field of construction, he has operated his own architectural practice in Athens. In 2004, he founded WORKSHOP, a space for creation and exhibition. Since 2015, Sotovikis has served as a board member of the Hellenic Institute of Architecture. He has designed and implemented a multitude of projects all across Greece and abroad. In recent years, he has also designed and built hotels. He is the publisher of "Themata", an annual review on architecture, art and all aspects of human creative expression. In that direction, he has salvaged and restored Atelier Kykladon 8 by Aristomenis Proveleggios and Rodakis' house in Aegina.