SEXUALITY AND GENDER IN TIMES OF CRISIS:
LIVE ART AND FEMINISM IN GREECE
@ Goldsmiths University of London, RHB 256
Thursday 20 April 2016
Presentations and Q&A with:
34es (artistic collective, London-Athens) / Chara Kolaiti aka Anna Goula (artist, Athens) / Fenia Kotsopoulou (artist, Lincoln) / Diana Manesi (PhD Social anthropology, Goldsmiths, London) / Mary Zygouri (artist, Athens)
Moderators: Giulia Casalini & Diana Georgiou (CUNTemporary, London)
In the past few years, Greece has made the headlines of worldwide news: from tense relationships with Germany and Europe to last year’s referendum, from on-going state corruption to neo-nazi uprisings, from subsequent austerity measures to the refugee ‘crisis’.
How has the world of art responded to these ongoing crises? Greece has continued its cultural efforts with the Athens and Thessaloniki Biennales, Whitechapel Gallery’s collaboration with Athens-based NEON foundation, Marina Abramović’s new work involving local artists, Ai Weiwei’s infamous and controversial actions ‘inspired’ by the arrival of refugees in Lesbos and the upcoming Documenta (2017). While living through critical times, Greece has continued to make the headlines while art continues to provide the entertainment, often at the cost of overshadowing the urgency and complexity of its critical situations. The gravity of words like “economy”, “corruption”, “democracy”, “grexit” have eclipsed the voices of artists, writers and activists whose work revolves around genders, sexualities and other critical themes. The current Greek crisis is not a new crisis, at least not for the field of queer and feminist debates.
The event starts with a short screening of “Opera Aperta”, a video-archive created by Mary Zygouri, about the life and practice of feminist artist and activist Maria Karavela (1938 – 2012), active during the Greek dictatorship in the 70s. We will then present four contemporary Greek artists/collectives and the fieldwork of a social anthropologist in an attempt to bring together the fragmented narratives of Greek artists and activists whose practices have engaged communities both in Greece and abroad, but also through online media.
This event aims to initiate conversation on the multifarious manifestations of queer and feminist politics from a range of geographical and artistic contexts, in the hope of producing a broader discussion on gender and sexuality.
Organised by CUNTemporary as part of “DEEP TRASH: Greek Trash” live art night, at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club (23 April 2016). More information at: https://www.facebook.com/events/206790666345754/
34es (EN: Tritotetartes, GR: Τριτοτέταρτες, meaning third/fourth-rate girls) is a post-punk, post-internet, post-avant-garde queer collective from Greece. Formed in 2014 by three “second-rate” friends from childhood, Katerina Ralli, Konstantinos Foukis and Theodoros Pouletidis were all raised in the small town of Katerini near Thessaloniki, Greece. The 34es project consists of multiple personas invading social media with human avatars, reptilians, mermaids and other creatures; each persona aspires to consume and reproduce the current cultural landscape’s trend for the multi-dimensional aspect of every field: multimedia, multidisciplinary, multi-conceptual, live art, sometimes opera, sometimes soap-opera, sometimes live-art-soap-opera-multi-extravaganza! 34es addresses issues of non-conformity, comfort, community, normativity, trash ♥, drag, religion, gender-bending, likes, youtubing, haters, fashion, lifestyle, western medicine, conspiracy theories, “it doesn’t sell unless it’s #sexy #masculine #fit #peace”, live your myth in Greece.
Performances include: Athens’ Sound acts festival (2015, 2016), various queer venues and underground clubs in Thessaloniki, Athens and London.
Chara Kolaiti (performing: Anna Goula)
Since 2007, Chara Kolaiti has been performing her alter-ego Anna Goula, whose name pronounced in Greek means “Nausea”, “queesiness” or “the urge to vomit”. By performing Anna Goula, the artist employs the tropes of pop and trash culture to expose current Greek politics and how the media industry exploits and perpetuates stereotypes of femininity and sexuality in a way that promotes both nationalism and sexism. When the videos were first launched on youtube, they immediately became viral (more than half a million views in a matter of days) and sensationalised. The artist was inundated with requests for press and TV interviews. The media were unable to read the subversive quality of the fictional persona Anna Goula and sought to consume what appeared to be a sexy, emancipated and powerful heterosexual uber-feminine image that would feed into their existing cultural hubris.
Performances and exhibitions include: “No Food’s Land”, 17th Biennale of young artists from Europe and the Mediterranean (2015, Milan), Athens’s Queer Festival, Embros Theatre (2014, Athens), “Untouchable – The musical”, curated by Franko B, Mori+Stein Gallery at Flying Dutchman (2013, London).
You can watch some of her most popular videos on YOUTUBE:
“Ta Pinw Ola” [I Drink it All] https://youtu.be/TcInOaBRPNQ
“Eime Arrosti” [I’m Sick] https://youtu.be/XlC_BvuMGTs
Fenia Kotsopoulou is a cross-disciplinary artist based in the UK, whose practice encompasses performance art, dance, video and photography. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Lincoln, and she studied dance at the National Dance Academy in Rome. Pivotal topics of her rhizomatic practice include: the body as a site of transformation and as the repository of emotions; personal and collective memory; performing documentation and alternative uses of archives; formation and deconstruction of female identity. Based on her practice-led research “VULVOgraphy: on performance & photography” (2015), she uses her body and specifically her vulva, as a primal tool of experimentation to confront phallocentrism within the practice of photographing. As a result, she created a hybrid performative body camera, named V(ulv)amera, providing insights into self-empowerment, exposure, and vulnerability. In the field of video art, she also collaborates with the UK digital artist Daz Disley, and their works have been shown at a wide array of festivals and art platforms.
Recent performances and exhibitions include: “BORDERLINE” (video art), CologneOFF 2016, at the 10th CeC – Carnival of e-Creativity (Shillong/India, 2016); “What Beauty Feels Like” (videoperformance), Strangloscope 8th Edition (Rio de Janeiro, 2016); “There is no limit to your “love”” (video art in collaboration with Daz Disley), 12th Athens Digital Arts Festival (Athens, 2016); “VULVOgraphy: Becoming a camera” (performance art/installation), University of Lincoln (Lincoln, 2015); “Long Exposure” (performance/installation), BORE mini festival (Lincoln, 2015); “(Dis)Remembering” (performance/installation), Frequency festival, (Lincoln, 2014).
Video art festival participations include: MADATAC 07 (Spain, 2016); Addis Video art festival (Ethiopia, 2016); Without Words Film Festival (3rd prize, France, 2015); 30th VideoFormes (France, 2015), FILE festival (Brasil, 2015, 2014), InShadow (Portugal, 2015), Video Performance Art Exibition: “Pancaroba” (Indonesia, 2015).
Diana Manesi is a PhD researcher in social anthropology at Goldsmiths College. She has just completed her fieldwork in Athens studying queer politics and the formation of queer femininities. She has completed a Master degree in Social Anthropology at UCL. She has also studied Cultural Studies at Panteio University and International Relations at the University of Athens. She is currently writing her thesis.
Born in Athens, Mary Zygouri, lives and works between Greece and Italy. She studied at the School of Fine Arts in Athens and she holds a Master in Fine Arts from the Chelsea College of Art and Design, London. The artist addresses issues related to identity and crisis in contemporary culture. Her public actions and staged performances reflect on systems of power, surveillance, censorship, human rights and relationships between humans and the animal. Her thoroughly choreographed performances often unfold in public spaces, thus provoking unpredictable outcomes and compelling the public to critically engage in her actions. The collective body of the artist and the viewers/participants becomes the main actors in a social ritual, situated between a manifestation, a procession and a collective game. Her body in motion becomes the political carrier and voice for the surrounding human and urban vibrations. Her videos serve as poetic accounts of her actions.
Recent performances and exhibitions include: “Ottomans & Europeans”, Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto, IKSV (Istanbul, 2015); “A trilogy”, Galleria Alberto Peola, (Turin, 2015); “Omonia”: 6th Athens Biennale, ISET Contemporary Greek Art Institute (Athens, 2015); “Carnaval/Visual Art”, I.C.E and Teatro Pubblico Pugliese, Museo Pino Pascali (Bari, 2015); “The Sound of the property”, performance, Sustainable Happiness, and TRW (Cagliari, 2014). “Venus of The Rags\in Tansit\Eleusis, 2014”, performance, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Aischylian Festival (Elefsina, 2014); “Laborintus”, Gallery Dino Morra Arte Contemporanea (Naples, 2013); “Archive Rights 1”, “OPERA APERTA- Maria Karavela”, ISET Contemporary Greek Art Institute (Athens, 2012). In 2012 Mary Zygouri was awarded by ΑICA (Association Internationale des Critiques d’Art) Hellas.
Giulia Casalini is an independent curator based in London. She is the co-director of the queer-feminist arts organization CUNTemporary, as well as the founder of Archivio Queer Italia, the first platform for queer arts, theory and activism in Italy. In 2014 she initiated “Teoremi”, an itinerant performance festival in Italy. She has recently been nominated Live Art Associate UK for her on-going commitment to showcasing performance art.
Diana Georgiou is the co-director of CUNTemporary, organizing events, screenings and exhibitions at the intersections of feminism and queer both in London and abroad. Her doctoral research in the Visual Cultures department at Goldsmiths University of London focuses on the relationship between auto/biographical art-writing and feminist discourses on subjectivity.
Photos by Loredana Denicola.