12 + 3 AP
2019 – 2021
Imagine a city: The facades of the buildings are wafer-thin membranes that shield the inner life from the outside world. The interior belongs to the private sphere, to be designed at will. The effect of a facade, on the other hand, is directed outwards: surfaces, colours and materials radiate a particular atmosphere that is, either consciously or sub-consciously, absorbed by passers-by on the streets. The facades of the buildings in Athens city centre are bearers of a constantly unfolding public discourse. They depict a collective political diary. A stroll through the centre can offer a good insight into current political events. Everywhere on the walls you can read subtle assessments of the latest political happenings, ironic comments on daily events, romantic ideas about the possibility of another togetherness. No newspaper, no radio station, no reportage offers that today: a direct, unfiltered discourse from “inside” and “below”.
In my photographic project, UNDER ERASURE, I consciously avoided depicting the political slogans per se. My work highlights a process, not the actual associated expressions. The sayings and slogans, that mostly appear overnight, and seemingly out of nowhere, are constantly evolving and changing. Some graffito would have new words added, others would have parts of the sentence crossed out or overwritten during a demonstration. A palimpsest emerges on the walls; an ebb and flow of political ideas encompassing cross-references, appropriations and corrections.
Then suddenly the writings disappear from the world: persons (or groups) offended by illegal writing on walls, reach for their paint-brushes and cover over the slogans and images with an opaque wall paint. The attempt is to restore the unsullied condition of a clean wall. The irony of the impulse to restore is in the focus of UNDER ERASURE. Which narratives operate covertly under the idea of a “clean city” and to what extent are they prescribed by the aesthetic canon of urban planners and architects?
In my compositions I consciously reach back to abstract painting of the 1950s and 60s and use those particular aesthetics as a form of Trojan horse: at first attracted and absorbed by the abstract fields of colour, you gradually notice that spectres linger under the cheerful-looking coloured surfaces; what has been deleted shines through.
In UNDER ERASURE three dimensional space is deliberately compressed. The photographic space appears as surface in which wall textures or finishings and building materials gain new significance. The exact design of a concrete wall, various types of plasterwork or the appearance of a marble-clad entrance area characterise the overall impression of each photo. Smallest, often enigmatic architectural details appear everywhere in the works: a ledge, the marble framing of a window, or the shadow of a pillar projected on the wall by the blazing Mediterranean sun. The warm light and fleeting shadows captured in the work herald the coming of spring. Like the seasons, the palimpsest on the walls could be considered an homage to transience.
(This project also relates to: Excerpts from the Book of Street Verse)