Saturday, November 26, 2016

Whistle While you Work

At the NOVA sector of Art Basel | Miami Beach (2016), Kalfayan Galleries present a curated solo exhibition of Kostis Velonis (b.1968), a thought-provoking research on sociopolitical theories reflecting the artist's Greek heritage and his recent experiences in Mexico.
Following the artist's three-month residency in 2016 at Casa Maauad in Mexico City Velonis' solo  show titled 'Part Company' explored antithetical approaches to community living and social participation by two distinct figures of Mexican Modernism, Greek-Mexican activist Plotino Rhodakanaty (1828-1892) and Mexican artist of German origin Mathias Goeritz (1915-1990).

Velonis work explores a broader context around class identity and the beauty of the trivial, through an emergency sculpture, encompassing rather than isolating aesthetics and politics. Kostis Velonis' solo presentation at NOVA consists mainly of new works, specifically created for the Art Basel Miami Beach: works on canvas from the "Trade Union Conflicts" series are juxtaposed to sculptures from the "Puppetry for Long Distance People" series and sculptures/ paintings from the series titled "Whistle While you Work". His work interrogates the ideological orientations of avant-garde movements during the 20th century, which saw art as a practice for social purposes. Velonis' work reminds us domesticity which was easily dismissed as it was in the heyday of modernism, when it was considered a failed and outdated value system among the upper and middle classes. Apart from historical connotations, the playful narrations and "awkward" craftsmanship of Velonis' sculptures demythicize the "revolutionary" rhetoric and ideological taboos of contemporary "political art". At the same time they are opening themselves to narratives of rural life and determine a time line prior to but also parallel to modernity.
Velonis' construction materials remain raw - often unpainted pine boards or humble construction materials scavenged from suburban areas, placed alongside readymade unidentified objects. The practices of scavenging, DIY and bricolage offer experiences related to the cultivation of anonymous folk design, drawing from already existing forms and structures. Revealing his training as an architect, the works sometimes represent carefully designed – almost monumental, one could say – responses in wood and brick and other times challenge the vertical structure of sculptural construction revealing its formless and primitive shape with remnants of steel reinforced concrete, clay and marble.

In dialogue with constructions that make visible conditions of ephemerality are paintings from the artist's series titled "Whistle While you Work" (from Walt Disney's 1937 film, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"), a colorful socio political commentary on contemporary work ethic and the apotheosis of workers' productivity. These paintings, evoking an ironic optimism about the improvement of worker's performance while whistling in their workplace, are combined with Velonis' sculptures, like studies on issues of a controversial life between the pursuit of happiness and the experience of suffering. Velonis in his most recent production of paintings and sculptures borrows his stylistic vocabulary from modern masters of abstraction reconceptualising their appetite for formalism towards a Mediterranean trope with motifs from Greek folklore, inventing a  literature of the South focused on self-sufficiency and simplicity of rural life.

Art Basel
Miami Beach, Dec.1-4
Kostis Velonis
Nova section /Booth N28

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Persnickety (Precision German Craftsmanship series), 2016
Plywood, acrylic
100 x 117 x 3 cm

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Filmed Apartment: Biopolitics of Domesticity in Modern Athens

The postwar development of Athens was an important step in the modernization of Greece. The economic boom, the emergence of a new middle class, and the urbanization process, took place in a very short period. Contrary to what has happened in most European countries, urbanization in Greece was not based on top- down urban planning, but on the ad-hoc repetition of a single building type: the polykatoikia (i.e. apartment building). The polykatoikia had a significant contribution in the urban and economic development of the country. Moreover, it had a dominant role in the formation of modern subjectivity in Greece. The workshop focuses on the development of Greek modernism through the architecture of middle class housing and the representations of urban dwelling in cinema. The analysis of architectural design takes into consideration the layout of the typical apartment, and the way that the repetition of a single building type has produced the city. The film analysis takes place in three ways: First, as a cinematic archaeology that renders visible social and urban transformations of the past; second, through the understanding of the methods that cinema has promoted, or put into question, specific lifestyles and ideologies; and finally, through film form and the analysis of its cultural significance.

Workshop by Panos Dragonas
University of Patras Stanley J. Seeger Visiting Research Fellow, Hellenic Studies
Respondent: M. Christine Boyer, Architecture
Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies-Princeton University
Friday, November 18, 2016 1:30 p.m 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Sculpture mouvante ou La France

Man Ray, Sculpture mouvante ou La France, 1920
Musée national d’Art moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris, dation en 1994

La Barricade de la rue Saint-Maur-Popincourt avant l’attaque par les troupes du général Lamoricière

Thibault, La Barricade de la rue Saint-Maur-Popincourt avant l’attaque par les troupes du général Lamoricière, le dimanche 25 juin 1848

Graffitis de prisonniers

Voula Papaioannou, Graffitis de prisonniers sur les murs de la prison allemande de la rue Merlin à Athènes, 1944


Ce parcours propose vingt-cinq images sélectionnées et commentées par Benjamin Bardinet et Ève Lepaon, conférenciers-formateurs au Jeu de Paume. Il est articulé en cinq sections introduites par Georges Didi-Huberman, commissaire de l’exposition : Éléments (déchaînés), Gestes (intenses), Mots (exclamés), Conflits (embrasés), Désirs (indestructibles).

Se soulever, comme lorsqu’on dit « une tempête se lève, se soulève ». Renverser la pesanteur qui nous clouait au sol. Alors, ce sont les lois de l’atmosphère tout entière qui seront contredites. Surfaces – draps, drapés, drapeaux – qui volent au vent. Lumières qui explosent en feux d’artifice. Poussière qui sort de ses recoins, qui s’élève. Temps qui sort de ses gonds. Monde sens dessus dessous. De Victor Hugo à Eisenstein et au-delà, les soulèvements seront souvent comparés à des ouragans ou à de grandes vagues déferlantes. Parce qu’alors les éléments (de l’histoire) se déchaînent.

On se soulève d’abord en exerçant son imagination, fût-ce dans ses « caprices » ou ses « disparates », comme disait Goya. L’imagination soulève des montagnes. Et lorsqu’on se soulève depuis un « désastre » réel, cela veut dire qu’à ce qui nous oppresse, à ceux qui veulent nous rendre les mouvements impossibles, on oppose la résistance de forces qui sont désirs et imaginations d’abord, c’est-à-dire forces psychiques de déchaînement et réouvertures des possibles. (G. D.-H.)

Values of Happiness

Text by Harry Walker, Iza Kavedžija

Tuesday, November 15, 2016