esw bursary 2012. beyond Snehta.1

I will try and document a fair account of ideas and concepts that will come up during my three month residency – bursary in Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop this summer.

I will name these posts ‘beyond snehta’ and will number them accordingly. It’s relevant as it is worth mentioning regardless the running of the second circle of Snehta residency in the city of Athens with the artists Stephanie Mann and Rachael Cloughton. I visited Athens two weeks ago with the artists to introduce them to the city with its everyday peculiarities, problems, its no go areas, its fun areas, its museum districts etch; within a weeks time we had the opportunity to visit various sites around Athens, specially the so called southern inland suburbia called Mesogeia which is characterized by an Athenian infested anarchic urban sprawl, an architectonic arbitrariness full of secret dirt roads and illegal buildings and settlements, the latter making the area seem rather puzzling due to a possibility of secret or suspect dealings…

Driving trough Mesogeia – being an area that includes various towns – one can witness roadside arbitrary structures that seem to have no apparent use or function, they look old and deserted but occasionally still function, seasonally perhaps either as sheds for animals, bus stops, roadside cantinas or storage spaces. Partly made of concrete partly made of wood and other found materials not quite gypsy looking these structures were aesthetically stimulating and I was intrigued by the aesthetics of their hybrid nature and the obscurity of their  function. Like floating structural follies they appear as denotations of a land that has very skillfully erased any kind of historical infrastructure from what once were traditionally built villages and small towns.

There are also the erased billboards and those Las Vegas style in Attiki Odo, the roadside cantinas with their sheds made out of reeds or palm tree leaves, and of course the concrete skeletons of buildings, which can be accessible if one parks along the dusty southbound road. As mentioned by Rachael Cloughton ( read here. ) these spaces are something of a ruin in its classical sense but they also emanate a feeling of perpetuating failure and ruination, as they were never complete to have a life that could utterly make its course, to deprive or flourish. Exposed concrete never ages as it constantly awaits plastering and various upgrades that define the practice of construction, therefore these skeletons symbolize something beyond the unattainable dreams of their contractors and owners. They are public spaces that perpetuate and revitalize their suffering and offer it to every passer by whilst allowing the landscape to be accessible at all times, the slow passing of time – the slowness of the Greek summer – it’s stillness through a sense of death and entrapment.

The combination of particular space poetics, the location and time of visit makes ones experience unique because of the fact that is a true experience and not a simulation. It would be impossible to recreate such an experience, however these skeletons become emblems of a city that suffers and can perhaps be used as such. They are symbols and experiential micro-worlds that due to the recent misfortunes and adventures of the city represent a new set of meanings. The emptiness of space, the alternative framing of the landscape through the spaces between the concrete columns and the crevices were windows would be installed give a new sense of laws to arise. The open planned spaces the huge underground spaces full of nails and construction debris, the vast and empty terraces recreate a cosmology, ranging between the two extremes of the descent to hell and the ascend to the heavens. Spaces take an alternate meaning as they have no obvious function. They are spaces to be born and be inhabited. They are naked whilst the visitor dwells and tries to find new meaning and a sense of homeliness. In spaces as such a new set of tactics and beliefs can emerge… In the shadows of the deathly shaft were the elevator meant to be the shadows of a new faith move in silence. Like the flower that blossoms in the rubble so our sense of self belief and belief in general can be reborn…

Rachael’s extensive account of concrete ruins along the Mesogeia

“A building that never ages becomes the foundation of a new faith”

tracing the symbols of a “new faith” as research for my work in ESW

Roadside structure – animal shed
below: Maria church along Attiki Odo
below: The Deserted Maria church
the church that bleeds and mourns the lost Maria
cracks intentionally made
below: Inside Maria. Key hole shaped altar
below: An empty shop in Kypseli with circular shape
below: Maria church terrace view through Mesogeia
ocular escape or entrapment?!
below: circular shape outside Maria. a motif repeated
below: detail of recent work “newcomer”, The Making of it, Edinburgh
below: newcomer total view, key hole screens, a repeating motif
Read Beyond Snehta.2

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