THF Raw - the contemporary art series, directed by Marina Miliou Theocharakis.
"Ways to lose energy"
A solo exhibition by Despina Charitonidi
Curated by Odette Kouzou
September 30–November 23, 2023
B. & M. Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts & Music
9, Vassilissis Sofias Avenue & 1, Merlin Street, 106 71 Athens-GR
The contemporary art series, THF Raw, present Ways to lose energy, a solo exhibition of Despina Charitonidi’s work curated by Odette Kouzou.
In the exhibition, a poetic relationship is built between the energy produced by the sun and the ways it is being exploited. Despina Charitonidi’s works raise questions about the production and loss of energy, whilst commenting on the environmental consequences of humans’ attempt to dominate nature. Her artistic language varies from sculptures and site-specific installations to performative works. Using natural elements such as gold, metals, and clay, she rearticulates them into construction materials, commenting on their properties and their conceptual relationships. In her work we encounter concepts such as fragility, weight, collapse, balance, as well as conditions such as power relations that intensify the dichotomy between ‘human’ and ‘nature’. Not interested in intensifying this dichotomy, but rather observing it as an imaginary construct, Charitonidi criticises the anthropocene era, along with human aggression towards nature.
The exhibition consists of three separate points of interest. Beginning from the sculptural installation nelumbo urbanis, Charitonidi, through the use of seemingly hard materials, such as rebars, creates a play between materiality and the properties of the lotus. The ceramic forms shape an illusion of the lotus flower, a symbol with strong conceptual and religious attributes, symbolizing the cycle of life, the rebirth of nature, and even a state of spiritual rebirth. The lotus, being an aquatic plant, is born in mud, lives and survives in freshwater, and is nourished by the rays of the sun. Its flower obeys the sun, opening and closing its petals by following the sunrises and sunsets, recording the beginning and end of the day. The life of the lotus becomes an allegory in the context of the exhibition, highlighting the human attempts to imitate nature by translating the natural energy into mechanics.
In the homonymous sculptural installation Ways to lose energy, large panels covered in gold leaves occupy the balcony of the 5th floor. Gold, in dialogue with the sun, implies the contrast of a refined mineral with the vast and raw energy of the sun. The installation is positioned in an industrial arrangement of photovoltaic cells and creates an oxymoron condition, absurd and non-utilitarian, commenting on the ways in which nature is exploited. The artist tries to raise questions about the modern economy of energy, in which the production and loss of energy, as well as the financial profits, are of central importance. Can humans even tame the sun? And if so, how much energy is required, by them, to do so?
At the same time, the performance titled No-body examines the corporeal struggle, in an almost choreographic situation, when two performers blow repeatedly in the air a gold leaf, while it gradually disintegrates. Their ultimate goal is to not let it touch the ground. The bodies here function as a tool of limited capabilities, being uncontrollable, fragile, and exhibiting a mimetic repetition. Gold has been a symbol of significant economic value, and a constant in the financial system, representing power and dominance since the beginning of known human history. In addition to the performers’ physical exhaustion, the repetitive blowing leads to the initial wrinkling of the material, and ultimately to its eventual destruction. The gold leaves, being extremely fragile and in a condition of constant movement, suggest the physical and social exhaustion that people experience for the sake of financial "liquidity", while bringing to our attention the paradoxical relationship between materiality and value. Charitonidi, thus, focuses on concepts of vulnerability and control while challenging the precariousness of our times, the temporality of human existence and the finitude of natural resources.
Artist: Despina Charitonidi
Curator: Odette Kouzou
Artistic Director: Marina Miliou Theocharakis
Exhibition Production Assistant: Nefeli Siafaka
Communication: Eva Karagiannaki
Static Study and Technical Support: Spiros Karachalios
Opening hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 10:00 - 17:00
Thursday: 17:00 - 21:00
PARALLEL EVENTS PROGRAM
Studio Visit with artist Despina Charitonidi and curator Odette Kouzou
Wednesday, October 4, 2023, 18:00 - 19:00
Performance - Guided tour
Thursday, October 5, 26, November 9, 23, 19:00 - 21:00
We, the modern | For children 7-12 years old
What does a sculpture or a painting look like in contemporary art?
Sunday, October 8, 12:00-13:30
Workshop for children: Games with the wind | For children 6-10 years old
Sunday, November 19, 12:00 - 15:00
Odette Kouzou (b. 1994) lives and works in Athens as a curator and art advisor. She holds a Masters’ in Performance Studies, Tisch School of the Arts/NYU (2019) and a Bachelor from Art History and Theory, Athens School of Fine Arts (2017). She is the founder and curator of the residency art program Thermia Project in Kythnos supported by the Ministry of Culture (2022). Currently she works as a curatorial assistant and art advisor alongside Aphrodite Gonou (Contemporary Art Advisor of the Museum of Cycladic Art). She has curated art exhibitions and programs in institutional and independent spaces, such as Back to Athens 2022, Alkinois Project Space, Amphicar Studio, Snehta Residency, Ύλη[matter]HYLE, and has worked at productions such as Art Athina 2019, Greece in USA (founded by Dr. Sozita Goudouna) and documenta 14. She has been nominated as an emerging curator for Whitechapel and NEON Curatorial Exchange Program 2020.
Despina Charitonidi (b. 1991) lives and works in Athens. She studied sculpture in the Academy of Fine Arts of Rome (2011), and she holds a BFA from Utrecht School of Fine Arts with main focus on installation and performance (2013). Her work has been presented among others; Atopos CVC, Athens (2023); Eins Gallery, Cyprus (2023); Microclima Festival, Venice - Cinema Galleggiante, IT (2022); 2022 Changwon Sculpture Biennale, South Korea (2022); Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina, Novi Saad for the Serbian Pavilion Venice Biennale (2022); Callirrhoë, Athens (2021); Alkinois Project Space, Athens (2021); Ύλη(Matter)Hyle, Athens (2021); “Gemeinsamkeit und Kollektivität trotz Distanz”, Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik, Berlin (2021); Hydra School Projects, Hydra, Greece (2020); 2023 Eleusis - European Capital of Culture, Greece (2018); Utrecht Centraal Museum at Hoog Catharijne, Netherlands (2015); and MACRO,Rome Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome (2013).
In the summer of 2023, her work “Bodies floating into the land” will be presented at the Temple of Poseidon in Tinos island, with the support of the Greek National Opera and Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports.
*Photographer: Eftychia Vlachou