Thursday, 21 July 2011

Beware of the Cross, 2011

Film DVD produced in London in 2011. Excerpt from Evdokia, directed by Alexis Damianos (1971). Edited by Giorgios Dagklis.
Exhibited as part of Olympia Polymeni's solo show at Sartorial Contemporary Art in 2011.

"this iconic example of Greek symbolism in cinema offers several clues to the messages contained in TASSEOGRAPHY"

Interview with Joel Chernin for the FOOK Magazine, 2011:

J: Your current work is inspired by a Greek custom among women called Tasseography: the reading of the Turkish coffee grounds at the bottom of a white cup - it is supposed to reveal the future. The first question I would like to ask is the naming of the abstract shapes you create. You give them names of recognisable forms - why is this and why not leave it to the viewers' interpretation?
O: It is true that I am not very 'democratic' about it. It is a conscious decision to propose my own point of view to the viewer and then let him/her respond if he/she agrees or not. I prefer clear positions, yes or no; it is black or white. Maybe it is a cultural thing: Greek culture, language and... sky has no grey.

J: Why just the two colours in the works?
O: My previous answer covers partly this question: Black and white, if seen positively, point to absolute solutions. But the truth is that it can also have a negative meaning, which is my weakness to see colour. I have chosen the simplest way to represent the coffee grounds by using black. This project came about from realizing and accepting my weak points as an artist: I wasn't a colourist, I couldn't use brushes, I was too subjective and so on...

J: With your work you want to show the way the female body is perceived reflects and determines its position in society. Are you questioning the role physical beauty, male sexism or something else?
O: I was about to finish my dissertation for CSM and I had done all the research on the topic of feminism and perception theories but I didn't have any conclusion yet. I remember strongly that I was having a shower when this idea dawned on me. I felt the whole power and vulnerability of my own body: this is all I have, this is all that people get when they see me. I realized that there is no ethos or reason that explains the relations between people and between sexes. These relations are built on the way we perceive each other relying on our subjectivity. I mean that it was a stong personal experience derived from my microcosmos, and that it can possibly reflect what it is going on out there.

J: You wrote 'My practice questions the way we perceive gender and suggests that gender is constructed by chance and perception'. Can you expand on this please?
O: Well, gender first of all is a matter of chance: a random combination of genes before we are born. The place and culture we are born in, is determined by chance as well. We can't control our origins. After we are born gender becomes a matter of perception. The way we are perceived has to do less with our actual physical characteristics than the way these characteristics are meant to be interpreted by the culture or society we live in. In our turn, we respond to norms and behaviours which are already there (set by family, school, society) and which determine how gender should be or behave. This irrational chain of responses constructs gender. A mechanism of cause and result is built upon chance.

J: Having looked upon the bottom of the coffee cup what do you predict for your art this year?
O: Ha! It is a shame that I don't really know to 'read' the coffee; in this case, I won't risk any interpretation. I see blackness, mess, repetition. The only trace of body I can see is not into the bottom but on the rim of the cup, and it is my lipstick to remind me that I am still here.

J: Can you give your definition of what is art?
O: Art is about what we cannot do, cannot have or cannot understand.

Forza Nuova, SPACE4828, Venice, 2011

Title: "Ballarine"
150x200 cm
Year: 2010
Technique: drawing
Artist: Olympia Polymeni

We apologize, but " Ballarine" by Olympia Polymeni is for private use only and cannot be displayed in public.


Press review: ARSKEY, Venezia041


curated by Nicola Ruben Montini
from the 30th of June to the 1st of August.
Preview: 30th of June, 6.30 P.M.

works by Giovanni Morbin, Vanessa Mitter, Nicola Ruben Montini, Giusy Pirrotta, Olympia Polymeni, Karol Radziszewski
FORZA NUOVA is a paradoxical and brainstorming event, between political and allusive blunt statements. For the preview evening, Space4828 is delighted to present “The Mock Modernist Manifesto”, performance by Vanessa Mitter, from 6.30 p.m.
Alongside Giovanni Morbin “Il Popolo d’Italia” (2007), where the artist displays the volume hidden between the bodies and the arms of a group of young fascists, the work of Karol Radziszewski “Fag Fighters: Prologue” (2007) shows the artists’s grandmother preparing the pink masks for a punitive actions of “fags” against the conservative society. “Fag Fighters: Prologue” is part of a larger work titled Fag Fighters, a provocative work of a fictional urban “guerrilla” unit, where the artist showcases the action of a gay-gang operating at the margins of mainstream society, committing several acts of violence, including sexual abuses.
If in this artwork the border between drama and simulation is blurred and the fictional aspect appears disturbingly realistic, in Vanessa Mitter’s performance “The Mock Modernist Manifesto” the artist strikes-up a hymn of praise to the realm of fictional life-style against the truthfulness of Nicola Ruben Montini’s video footage of his performance “We hope not to have another B-day”, where the reference to Berlusconian Italian times are dramatically related to Mussolini’s dictatorship.
The shows continues with a series of images by London based italian artist Giusy Pirrotta, who has randomly found slides of italian fascist architecture in a british second-hand shop and whose gaze is, for a moment, the reflection of the british tourist on the italian post-war panorama. The refined approach of Giusy Pirrotta to themes such as the Fascist Society is here amplified by the work of Olympia Polymeni, whose delicate drawing goes back to the theme of gender, in a naif and enormously poetic approach to the representation of the body.

Modern Greek History

Modern Greek History through the display of the female body in public.
How the body reflects social and political relations in time. From the cultural innovations traditionally reported in the Greek history to the attempts of westernazitation and finally to protest.

Part 1: Daphnis and Chloe (1931), Greek film directed by Orestis Laskos. The first nude scene in European cinema.

Part 2Patistas, cosmetics (1980), produced by Pavlos Pissanos. The first Greek television commercial of cosmetics, characteristic of the time of Metapolitefsi (the era after the Junta of 1967-1974) in such an extent that for most Greeks the theme from Rocky (Gonna Fly Now) is associated with cosmetics instead of boxing; Patistas is occasionally broadcasted till nowadays.

Part 3: Athens Polytechnic (1995), performance by the contemporary Greek artist Georgia Sagri. Protest against the character that the 17 November Anniversary has taken, an anniversary established to celebrate the arise of the Athens Polytechnic movement and the consequent fall of the junta.

Modern Greek History Part 1

Daphnis and Chloe (1931)