Wednesday, Saturday: 12:00-17:00
Thursday, Friday: 12:00-19:00
ΕΝΙΑ GALLERY presents on Friday 8 February 2019 the solo exhibition «Your history, it’s not my story» of Artemis Potamianou.
Artemis Potamianou presents a multilevel environment whose narrative on the female condition unfolds over space and time. The questioning of the structures of society and art which characterises her entire oeuvre continues to concern her here, as the title of the show, "Your history, it’s not my story", suggests.
The facts are given from the outset with the immobilised, almost demarcated space that viewers come into. The implied notion of confinement is combined with the written information about Artemis Potamianou referring to the entire set of female conditions to this day, which she juxtaposes with the still-unfulfilled dream of freedom and true equality.
The main exhibition space is metaphorically transformed into a cage that hosts elaborate birdcages which also contain smaller cages inside. These images-within-images, realities-within-reality, create successive artificial worlds and levels of confinement. The cages/cells, an allusion to Michel Foucault's Panopticon, act as partitions, differentiating between the inside and the outside, trapping viewers in the empty space in-between and at the same time defining labyrinthine escape routes.
The painstakingly crafted wooden structures and the thin metal rods are inspired by the elaborate cages of old, some of them faithfully replicating existing buildings and villas. The work references the cabinets of curiosities of times past as well as the artist's own earlier installation Utopia, you were always in my mind (2011).
In the old masters' paintings of cages and winged pets the female imagery predominated, directly equating these beautiful exotic birds with fragile femininity and a quiet domestic life. Against these idyllic scenes Potamianou proposes a different reality, disputing the social stereotypes which make up the conventional mythology of women.
Appropriating the male role of the curieux whom she invests with her own female identity, Potamianou brings together, from various and thoroughly researched sources, disparate objects whish she correlates directly to the female world—an antique toy, girls' velvet shoes, tiny furniture from various eras, dried butterflies as symbols of the soul, artificial trees, etc.—which question the female status quo. In these bird-less homes she moulds microcosms, three-dimensional still lifes. The cages turn into minute theatre stages; archives of archetypal memory.
The title of the installation, Which side are you on?, poses precisely this question. Addressed to both sexes, it activates one's thoughts and triggers a journey to the depths of conscience and the field of ethics.
Another cabinet of curiosities is set up in a separate room of the gallery to host the final chapter in the feminist history of Potamianou. The environment converses with two major literary works of the 19th century: Honoré de Balzac's The Unknown Masterpiece—whence the title of this installation—and Oscar Wilde's Portrait of Dorian Gray.
Artemis Potamianou goes back to female figures from well-known paintings of art history by Goya, Da Vinci, Vermeer, Cranach, Christus, Freud, and others. She processes these original images by computer, removing the colour and selectively illuminating the eyes and the hands as the most expressive elements but leaving their female identity intact. The outcome is printed, wrapped in transparencies and tied with a rope like the sewing machine of Man Ray. The incarcerated women fill the anteroom to the exhibition, acting like an apocryphal introduction to this final chapter.
Following the same logic as with her architectural cages—which is, indeed, her standard artistic practice—Potamianou deconstructs and reassembles the appropriated masterpieces of art on her own anatomical table. Using collage on the printouts of the original portraits of women, she adds facial features from well-known portraits of men.