The first resident is the LA based visual artist Ben Wolf Noam
Can isolation and decadence be transformed?
The last Friday of November, elculture.gr attended the opening of Snehta’s Residency exhibition titled “Unsettled Certainties”, in Kipseli. The residency, presented the work produced from Catriona Gallagher and Dickie Webb from UK during their two months staying in Athens. “Unsettled Certainties” was a synopsis of their research and time at Snehta and points towards possible resolutions in the future. The exhibition lasted 3 days, from Friday 29th November until Sunday 1st December.
Snehta welcomed Webb and Gallagher in early October and after their two-month interaction and contemplation with the Athenian urban setting they presented a fruitful outcome. Gallagher and Webb have both been occupied with the notion of place, comprehending what is to be settled or grounded and equally seeking intermediate sites to challenge their knowledge. Through certain and uncertain exploration they have found different places to work within the Athenian landscape.
Dickie Webb, has concerned himself with liminal spaces, sites that were but are not now, since certain events occurred. His work was partly sculptural, partly photographic and partly based on sound. He has created reflective intermedia works that question what now, post since. During his stay, he collaborated with other artists including VJ’s and musicians.
Among the locations he visited, was the old Athens international airport, at Elliniko -which stopped operating before the 2004 Olympics. He photographed the dilapidated and abandoned space. He then converted the photographic imagery into recorded “soundscapes”, the audience could sit and listen through headphones the sounds produced and receive a nostalgic yet mixed feeling of what comes next. Can isolation and decadence be transformed? In a different piece titled “Free ride”, Webb has lined up “fake checked metro tickets”, similarly cut with the originals in white paper, setting the exact date and time of the free ride. That feeling of taking free rides and exploring a city without a price seems like the freedom an Athenian should seek, and make Athens an adventure; or a juxtaposition between the notion of free and overpriced in terms of connotations. In a floor installation he mentions “Things are different now” .
Catriona Gallagher, has been making interventions that highlight absurdities in the preservation of heritage and trying to understand the notion of shelter when that becomes necessary. At first, she drew and monitored the house she lived in, Snehta, and tried to stay in the restricted lines of her space by designing the herringbone pattern floor which later explained to us that was a symbol of the fallen Greek aristocracy. Then she documented in a visual display the apartment’s internal wind trying to describe, as she mentioned, that stillness is not restored.
Another aspect of her work was the symbiosis of plants, nature with and within buildings and the streets of the city. She constructed works that presented signs of green life in the various corners of Athens, the plants are trying, struggling to find their way to the atmosphere and they finally break the concrete cement. She photographed the so-called “perdikaki” plant which lives practically everywhere in Athens for hundreds of years, from the well reputed place of Acropolis to the most decadent and neglected building of a dark alley but “We never observe it”. She meticulously framed that vital “need of green” in a decadent environment, which now tries to change the fallacies of the past. Gallagher’s deeper reading of Athens in regards to the passing of time, further shows an ethereal and spiritual understanding, beside a focus on materiality and space.
The example of Snehta residency has brought a positive outcome to the public through their innovative experimentation practices. The resident artists have truly brought a renewed awareness of Athens to the audience through the works produced. The purpose to rediscover Athens was successfully met, by translating the sounds and images of the city alternatively, and most importantly, by seeing details we never notice. Therefore, as Snehta residency is concerned, it is more a matter of setting an example, which is altogether positive.
After New Year Snehta is expecting Andrew Mason and Jack Burton. Andrew will be developing sculpture works based on the raw textures of the City. Jack is aiming to develop photographic and literal work based on the narrative of togetherness, recognizing a need in the City due to its economic, social and political realities.
*Besides the artist-in-residence program they also organize a series of exhibitions, talks and workshops in response to topics that critically engage with Athens’ unique identity as a historical and social center. For more information visit their official website.