jump to navigation

Art exhibition presents history through subjective stories March 27, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece, Arts Museums.
Tags: , , , , ,
trackback

Despina Meimaroglou and Deimantas Narkevicius at Thessaloniki’s SMCA

26-03-08_genius_seculi1.jpg  An image from the video ‘Disappearance of a Tribe’ by Deimantas Narkevicius. 

26-03-08_genius_seculi2.jpg  A photograph from Despina Meimaroglou’s project inspired by her trip to Cambodia.

During a trip to Cambodia three years ago, artist Despina Meimaroglou visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in the capital Phnom Penh. Originally a school, it had been converted into a torture site during Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime before much later becoming a Museum.

Impressed by the numbers of young students waiting to visit the former torture chambers, Meimaroglou began thinking about rememberance and the strong effect that certain historical events can have on our lives. Her visit to Cambodia provided one more occasion to ponder on politics and history, steady subject matter in the work of this politically oriented artist. Upon her return, and still deeply stressed by the strong effect that the visit to the Genocide Museum had on her, Meimaroglou began work on a new project.

“Discovering the Other – Tuol Sleng, After all who Rewrites History after You” the title of the art installation that ensued after the artist’s visit to Cambodia, is one of the artist’s two works presented in “Genius Seculi”, a joint exhibition on the work of Meimaroglou and the well-known Lithuanian artist Deimantas Narkevicius, who represented his country at the 2001 Venice Biennale. The exhibition is organized by the Center of Contemporary Art, a section of the Thessaloniki State Museum of Contemporary Art (SMCA) and curated by Syrago Tsiara, the Center’s Director.

Meimaroglou and Narkevicius both share an interest in exploring issues related to history and politics through personal narratives. They both view history through subjective, individual stories and explore the interplay between the personal and the collective.

Narkevicius raises issues related to his country’s recent history and uses film and video in the style of a documentary. “Once in the XX Century”, a film presented in the Thessaloniki exhibit, is a montage of footage documenting the tearing down of public sculpture during the period of the early 1990s when Soviet control of Lithuania came to an end. The overpowering presence of the sculpture is a metaphor for the staying effects of the Soviet regime. According to the artist, it suggests that the immediate changes that everybody hoped for were not effected, that the “utopia of liberalism, which then seemed the only way” did not become a reality.

The work of Narkevicius speaks of the importance of thinking about recent history in a critical and profound way. His work suggests that being oblivious to historical events is at the expense of awareness of both history and oneself.

In the video “Dissapearance of a Tribe”, Narkevicius reflects on the history of his country from the 1950s to today through a selection of images taken from his family photo album. Again, his work examines the ways in which the large events of history trickle down into the lives of people or how personal stories reflect broader, historical events.

This quest is also to be found in the work of Meimaroglou. In the video installation “Annette McGavigan: A Personal Story becomes History” Meimaroglou tells the story of a 15-year-old girl who was killed by British soldiers during the traumatic Bloody Sunday events in Northern Ireland in 1972. After a chance meeting with the victim’s brother in Athens a few years ago, Meimaroglou began collecting all sorts of archival material on this relatively recent chapter of Northern Ireland’s history.

Her work engages the notion of historical memory. The artist pays tribute to the anonymous victims of violence and tragic historical events. Both her work and the work of Narkevicius are a reminder that history is a living experience that shapes the present and our self-understanding.

“Genius Seculi” at the SMCA, Thessaloniki, to 30 April. For information call 2310 546683.

Related Links > www.cact.gr

http://www.greekstatemuseum.com

http://www.emst.gr

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: