“Efi Spyrou Storm Bird and Other Animals”
Text by Charis Kanellopoulou
“Storm Bird and Other Animals is a triptych that attempts to chart the ever-changing, complex and multilevel identity demanded of today’s artists. The motive power behind the work is self-reference, with the artist herself as both creator and creative part of it, exhibiting her work and herself as an object for viewing. Spyrou explores the ways in which artists go beyond the production of the artwork to generate communication, information, knowledge, conditions of life and behaviour — in other words, their overall artistic subjectivity, which moves sometimes in the realm of inner processing and sometimes in the public light.
A first panel in the triptych is devoted to the manual aspect of artistic production. The image of a cloud of dust inside an art studio obstructs visibility and suggests the labour behind artistic creation, which is constant and arduous yet at risk of remain unseen, especially in the adverse conditions of promoting and marketing artworks in the current Greek reality.
In the next panel, Still Dog, the artist’s own body —sturdy, distanced, dynamic, frozen—becomes the “canvas” on which phrases (EXOTIC NOT EXHAUSTED, STRONG CONCEPTUAL MODEL, CALL ME OTHER, etc.) appear as sharp, double-edged comments on the art market and its entrenched communication policy, its opportunities and exclusions.
In the third panel the artist turns into a curious spectacle with her disguise as a wondrous storm bird, the seabird that seeks cover from storms by hiding in the lee of ships and was valued for its oily, fatty body which was fitted with a wick and used as a lighting candle on the Scottish islands till the late 19th century. Wrapped in her symbolic garment, Spyrou appears as an image at once exotic and distorted, symbolically triggering a debate around the survival of artists in conditions of financial hardship and crumbling institutions, as well as in an environment with an obvious tendency to aestheticise and exoticise the ever-worsening crisis.”