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Mike Petrakis on elculture.gr
"My art alludes to the words, icons and symbols we consume in our everyday life, in an attempt to redefine them"
Mike Petrakis is a contemporary mass culture artist with a twist. His art is characterized by secret gems and mind teasers that he has planted for his audience to find. His philosophy is that Art should appeal to a wide audience of all social tiers. His mission isn’t to cynically trash the whole of society along with its signs and symbolism; instead, he manages to reopen the debate on the associations we sometimes automatically make with various cultural icons. Under this scope his latest exhibition “The Land of D€MOCRA$¥”, initially presented at the Art Gallery of Corfu Municipality and currently hosted at the Greek Embassy in The Hague, tries to awaken people’s consciousness on the nature, meaning and functions of Democracy. ελculture spoke with Mike Petrakis about his exhibition, his so far experience in the Netherlands as well as his future plans.
ελc:Democracy is a very wide concept. Which angle of this concept is this exhibition trying to cover?
Mike Petrakis: The aim of this exhibition is to redefine the meaning and concept of Democracy and its functions. Referring, first of all, to Democracy between the people and then the function of Institutions (Social, Politics, Religious, Economic, etc.)working for or against the people.
ελc: What is the role of the art during a turbulent socio – political period like the one we are in?
MP: Contemporary Art, as presented through museums and galleries during the last years, has an entertaining character, which is the result of our nowadays existence under the influence of show biz. However, I could say that the last two to three years especially through large scale contemporary art fairs (7th Berlin Biennale, Documenta, Venice Biennale 2013), we see the rise of some new artists and voices that address more people’s problems; problems about existence, politics, etc. That is also the aim of my art – philosophy, to allude to the corruption and corrosion, to the words, icons and symbols which we consume in our everyday life, in an attempt to redefine them.
ελc: What kind of questions does “The Land of D€MOCRA$¥” raise?
MP: “The Land of D€MOCRA$¥” installation, wants to bring back the dialogue on the real meaning and nature of Democracy, especially today during the international economic crisis, which is actually more of a conscience crisis. Furthermore, crisis is a ‘product’, which comes and goes in the latest history and which will come again in the future, addapted to the values of each period. So, we must make a pause, restart and redefine our real values as human entities.
ελc: If I’m not mistaken, there is an interactive part in the exhibition. What is its purpose?
MP: Yes, the exhibition is interactive as well and its purpose is to make visitors participate more in the theme, subject and meaning of the installation and subsequently of Democracy. Specifically, the exhibition ends with the process of Democreation, where the visitors, influenced by the creative process and presentation of the artworks, have the chance to write their own message or slogan for what they think Democracy stands for. Moreover, I reckon myself as an artist, who represents some people’s ‘voice’; a vessel that will carry their message or comment on Democracy and above all its functions.
ελc: I’ve read that the exhibition in The Hague is enhanced with some additional artwork. Was it just a matter of timing or are there any other reasons?
MP: I have created 5 new works since the previous presentation at the Municipal Gallery of Corfu – Greece. I could say that this is a project in constant progress and to this adds the participation of the audience in the installation. In its next presentation at the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation, which will take place in Athens – Greece this October, I will also show some new creations together with the Democreations of Corfu and The Hague, as a common voice of these three cities, including Athens.
ελc: What is the reception of the audience in The Hague so far?
MP: The reception of the people in The Hague and Holland in general is very positive so far. The media show a great interest as well. Recently, I gave an interview to one of the most important newspapers of Netherlands, the “NRC Handelsbland”. To conclude, I would like to thank Mr. Dimitrios Sparos for helping me with the presentation of this very important exhibition at the Embassy of Greece in Netherlands.
The next solo show of Mike Petrakis, where the artist will present his new oil paintings on paper, is entitled “Call it Hate, Call it Love, I call it ART” and will be presented at the Bella Venezia Hotel in Corfu – Greece from 9 – 23 July 2013. “The Land of D€MOCRA$¥” will be also presented at the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation in October 2013.