"Metro: New Trends in Contemporary Greek Art 1999"

By Cafopoulos, Catherine | Artforum International, December 1999 | Go to article overview

"Metro: New Trends in Contemporary Greek Art 1999"


Cafopoulos, Catherine, Artforum International


DESTE FOUNDATION

"Metro," not "Metropolis" (a title used by curators Christos Joachimides and Norman Rosenthal for a 1991 show in Berlin), was the name Dan Cameron gave to the exhibition he curated for the Deste Foundation. This truncated word was an accurate expression of the concept governing Cameron's show: the end of the metropolis, or center of the city, as the traditional engine of culture, in the face of globalization, bolstered by digital communication systems that render one's physical location inconsequential and privilege one's ability to "connect."

Cameron chose nine young artists, born between 1962 and 1974, who work in a diverse range of media, although technology could be seen as a common denominator. Their work revolves around a shared group of themes: situations of dislocation; expressions of extreme subjectivity; the hovering threat of destruction of some kind; feelings of insecurity and alienation; and, finally, relationships with both the personal and the communal environment--all in all, concerns that are ubiquitous in contemporary artistic practice.

The only paintings on view were brightly colored, seemingly carefree yet pathos-filled canvases by Maurice Ganis, but other artists revealed a preoccupation with creating moving painterly images. Panayota Tzamourani works in video, but her approach to the medium is almost formalist: Her footage of everyday objects--window blinds, for example--becomes an abstract meditation on color, texture, and shape. Deanna Maganias also engages vernacular elements, but to vastly different effect. Her exquisitely crafted models tamper with scale, creating a disconcerting sense of displacement (for instance, a miniature pink-tiled room contains an oversize bar of soap). Despina Isaia creates another kind of dissonance in a series of works based on a pink satin comforter from her childhood. After asking several friends to imagine their own "objects of dependence," she realized their descriptions--a boxing robe, an elongated pillow, a straitjacket--in pink satin. This projection of her personal insecurities and means of grati fication onto others is revealed to be a form of total subjectivity: Neither her blanket nor its comforts can be consigned to others.

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