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“Bodies in Procession”

“Bodies in Procession”

Text by Charis Kanellopoulou

EXOTIC, NOT EXHAUSTED‘Exotic’ not exhausted, every dynamic torso of Efi Spyrou opposes its reality and image to the fragile precarity presented as the new normality of our time. Still Dogs are repetitive photographic surfaces, where the body of the artist herself – robust, detached – welcomes a series of ambiguous phrases as piercing comments on the difficult condition of modern reality, and more specifically of modern artistic production, on its opportunities and exclusions.

NON-PROTECTED SPECIESOver the past years, the notion of precarity is increasingly discussed on a cultural as well as on a social level and it is being linked to issues regarding the function of the artistic scene, its ephemeral and flexible working conditions, the imponderable factors which formulate public space and public speech. Precarity is much stronger a notion than uncertainty, which is uniquely linked to risk. ‘An object is said tobe precarious if it has nodefinitivestatusand an uncertain future or final destiny: it is held in abeyance, waiting, surrounded by irresolution. It occupies a transitory territory.’[1]

Acknowledging the precarious state the world is in – the existence of a future depending much more from the rapid changes in circumstance and the unknown conditions – Spyrou brings to the discussion’s forefront a position of simultaneous ‘defense’ and ‘offense’, speaking of the constantly renewed and multi-level identity that the contemporary needs to have. In her work, she operates as a creator and a creative part of the project, exposing her work and exposing herself as a viewing object, delving into the ways in which the artist is expected to be highlighted as a manifold personality who is not implicated only in the production of his artistic work, but also in the production of communication, information and knowledge, in the exposure of his living conditions and his behavior – meaning, his broader artistic subjectivity. She aims to move dynamically as well as flexibly, sometimes in spaces of internal operations and sometimes in areas of public display.

LONG LASTING. With the ‘fear of the fall’ now visible, the uncertain conditions which exist in the exercise of artistic practices formulate a new context for the relationship between artistic creation and professionalism, which is firmly ‘competing’ with the historic impression of ‘art for art’s sake’ under pragmatistic terms.Artistic creation – which may be triggered by the accumulation of inspiration as a declaration of a grand intellectual and expressional power, even under the most unfortunate and hopeless conditions, but at the same time presupposing the strenuous, constant, ‘conventional’ work –can end up at a time of constant risk as elusively obscure or it can be satisfied by the increasing cashing in, within the sphere of the symbolic capital, of only a ‘psychic income’ of  prestige, distinction, constant presence in the field. In hard times, the ‘body’ of the artistic creation is expected to remain independent, a creative example, a source of active disposition. In that sense, Spyrou’s Little Black Bird, a disguise garment which is transported ‘lifeless’, silenced and detached from its qualities, reveals itself as a ‘hollow body’ seen from outside towards the inside, symbolically sparking the discussion around the survival of the artistic subject in this insecure world – particularly in a stagnant period and in an environment which, in order to survive, has become a center of attention and experimentation, visibly disposed towards the aestheticization and the exotification of the ever increasing crisis.

Charis Kanellopoulou
Art historian, exhibition curator

[1]Nicolas Bourriaud, “Precarious Constructions: Answers to Jacques Rancière on Art and Politics”, Open 17 (2009): 32.