Nikolas Ventourakis at MISC / Athens

Nikolas Ventourakis
Unlikely Outcomes. The exhibition**

08.06. - 30.07.2022

Toussa Mpotsari 20
11741 Athens

Images courtesy the artist and MISC
Photos: Nikolas Ventourakis

“Unlikely Outcomes. The Exhibition**” 



A pile of trash, overflowing into the street, waiting loyally for its Venus to be back at any moment despite the certainty that that glimmer of hope is long gone. The refuse of our lives has become in itself a thing of beauty. A sculptural entity which we can admire and appreciate, correspondingly to ancient marbles or a renaissance painting in museums and galleries. 

Something, within that mound of garbage catches our attention and stands out. The rhythm it creates, the overall form it resembles, the odor it recalls… our minds expands it, through the memory of our senses into another shape, another smell, another sound. 

It has its own voice emanating to the rest of the street, echoing between the buildings the voices of those who dumped it, but it also acts in unison with the images surrounding it. It sings of chaos, certainly, but it also transmits a sense of rest, from our daily lives filled with endless repeating chores, social occasions, dinners, festivities, more chores, lunches, new beginnings that turn into eternally returning and contradicting discussions over what to do, what is meaningful, what is not… It’s funny how, an assemblage of discarded objects that found their final resting place, can even give us a sense of peace. The same peace we experience, rarely, when lying awake in a hot summer night and our mind wanders. 


Nikolas Ventourakis’ “Unlikely Outcomes. The Exhibition**” is a performative assemblage of images creating an underlaying excruciating tension between presence and absence. A free composition that effectively demands from us the engagement of all our senses in order to put together a narrative not imposed but certainly discernable. Each image interacts with the others adding or subtracting a tone, a sense, a moment of our lives, at times in unison at times in strident contrast. At no point are we asked to give an answer to what the underlying harmony is, what melody we are seeing unfold, or which rhythm we actually should follow: the calm and reassuring voice emanating from a familiar face or the rough surface of a wall filled with someone else’s impulsive thoughts.  

By refusing to impose an overarching theme on us and on the works, Ventourakis places us in a free space, and as all free spaces, this might be disorienting at first. We can, however, decide to choose our guides in the form of colors, shapes, environments. And once we do, a number of hummings emerge. Like children’s lullabies, these hummings create a sense of safety around us, they tell us that we’re not lost in a world of chaos, the monster under our bed can be kept at bay. The hummings, these “grown up lullabies” we can find in “Unlikely Outcomes. The Exhibition**” move along a few axis which Ventourakis constructs, slowly opening up to themes we might not expect to be there using recurring motifs which complexify and variate over the space of the exhibition venue. These, build up to a complex symphony of signifiers that lead us to the fundamental subject at the heart of the exhibition: the passing of thresholds, of darkness and light and ultimately of life and death. 


I feel I need to switch tone to fully discuss “Unlikely outcomes” and turn this into a personal dialogue with the exhibition and through this with the artist himself. There are exhibitions which touch you for the clarity of the message they sent, others which are able to free your mind and give you the necessary space to reflect on our personal conditions or current circumstances. Throughout the images of “Unlikely Outcome” I have found a truly extraordinary moment of insight into the process of grief, of sensemaking and search for growth of an artist and individual who is displaying an unusual clarity in re-elaborating the complexity of our world within these processes. It is not an essay on death, on change, on passing, by all means. And how could it? It’s ludicrous to think that any of us would follow a straight line, a script when describing such overwhelming feelings and thoughts. Rather, we try to make sense of them through associations of images we find around us and in our memory. We navigate our daily lives and let our mind wander from subject to subject, from task to task while not letting go of that One specific concern affecting us at a particular time. Yes, of course we have moments in which our mind cannot retract, obsessively thinking of a gesture, of a haircut, of that particular shade of red that we kept encountering on that particular day. But once we deal also with memory, with an overlap of present and past, with manifest and imagined, we have to relinquish linearity, we have to move away from the script, and be ready to react and improvise using our sensitivities. Whether you’ll find yourself in tune or dissonance with the theme is possibly more a thing of chance as there is nothing there to force you into it, but my advice is to lay aside your score for the time you’re visiting and let the hummings carry you…

Curatorial text by Christian Oxenius.