81. Renée Petropoulos: Outburst-Conjugation 2
June 16, 2022
The performance Outburst-Conjugation 2 by Renée Petropoulos took place in Proxy Athens on June 16, 2022, at the Athens School of Fine Arts. Artists Marianna Athanasiou, Artemis Chatziathanasiadou-Dede, Erifili Doukeli and Philippos Vasileiou also participated with actions of their own. The Proxy Gallery is performative in its own right, as a play on the "white cube" (literally) and institutional critique. In this sense it is a platform upon a platform. Petropoulos used the Proxy/platform for speaking, by appearing in the gallery as a disembodied talking head, facing both forward towards the audience and towards the back of the gallery. Her speech thus took multiple meanings: as a kind of self-expression in which the head and brain are emphasized at the expense of the rest of the body. The artist used the gallery as a kind of loudspeaker that both amplifies and limits or contains speech. It is important to note that the photographs are cropped to the gallery box only, while the audience present on the day of the performance could see the whole body with Petropoulos’s head in the box.
Petropoulos's speech was each a 2-3 minute meditation, improvised, that raised the question of the function of speech as self-expression and as protest, while ostensibly discussing family, vacation, and labor. Consistent with the idea that the self is largely constituted through discourse, the performance calls attention to the possibility of speaking through an institution, in order to make both the institution and the self visible. The head is contained in the box, but it also encompasses the architecture of it, the discursive space. The outburst, the rant, suggests criticality heretofore suppressed, possibly anger. Video documentation will soon be uploaded here.
Marianna Athanasiou performed silently while wearing a hairy mask with only one eye opening and with a rubber vagina in place of her mouth. Athanasiou moved her sole visible eye up, down and sideways for about two minutes, enacting the object of the gaze that also looks back at the viewer like a contemporary Olympia and perhaps silently comments on being doubly trapped: inside a mask and inside a box-gallery. The eye/I is trying to see the limits of its confinement from inside those limits. The silent enactment performs the question: What would genital speech be like? https://youtu.be/pqp2XInBFMA
Erifili Doukeli’s head appeared silent and expressionless for several minutes while friends crouching below covered her face and gallery space with blank pieces of paper, crumpled and not, followed by adding loose pieces of transparent packing tape that kept the papers attached to her face and the gallery box. The effect at times was that of a waste basket holding her head and various papers, or of a head overwhelmed by the possibilities of writing. https://youtu.be/x3ZjMUeaX4I
Finally, Artemis Chatziathanasiadou-Dede stood with her head in the gallery, and engaged in an exaggerated makeup ritual that started with black eyeliner and red lipstick to continue with an increasingly grotesque marking of her face and upper arms with red lipstick lines and smeared black eyeliner. Crumpled packing tape was crudely cut with scissors and stuck on her face, adding an element of danger and blindness to her performance.
Based on the location of the Proxy Gallery in the central room of the school of Fine Arts in Athens, Fillipos Vasiliou made a short video that, among other things, emphasized his body as a continuation of his head inside a gallery that is also an art work inside another larger gallery. Through the hair, the head is connected to "payload," a mechanism which in a few days will connect to a balloon and will rise to the sky. In this way he insists on the connection between machine and body.
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