ARCAthens Virtual Residency #3

ARCAthens Virtual Residency November 2020

Elia Alba

Elia Alba, born in Brooklyn 1962, is a multidisciplinary artist, who works in photography, video and sculpture. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Hunter College in 1994 and completed the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in 2001. She has exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Science Museum, London; Smithsonian Museum of Art, El Museo del Barrio, ITAU Cultural Institute, São Paulo; National Museum of Art, Reina Sofía, Madrid and the 10th Havana Biennial. She is a recipient of the Studio Museum in Harlem Artist-in Residence Program in 1999; Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, 2002 and Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant 2002 and 2008; Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) Workspace Program, 2009, and Anonymous Was A Woman Award, 2019. Collections include the Smithsonian Museum of Art, El Museo del Barrio, Lowe Art Museum. Her book, Elia Alba, The Supper Club, critically acclaimed by The New York Times, brings together artists, scholars and performers of diasporic cultures, through photography, food and dialogue to examine race and culture in the United States. She is currently guest curator for El Museo del Barrio’s upcoming survey of contemporary Latinx art, ESTAMOS BIEN – LA TRIENAL 20/21 opening March 2021. www.eliaalba.net

Born in the U.S. to parents who immigrated from the Dominican Republic, I have often found myself in-between these cultures, countries and identities. These different positions made me realize that people’s characteristics are not limited to their race or ethnic heritage but rather subject to change and modification through experiences. Through photograph, sculpture and video, my work has always been concerned with fluid identities and the collective community. My project, the Supper Club, brings together artists, scholars and performers of diverse diasporic cultures, through photography, food and dialogue to examine race and culture in the U.S. My recent sculptural work of hands, created through a photo-transfer process on fabric, reflect the personality and identity of each sitter through the lens of history or folklore and the narratives ascribed to their hands.”

Elia Alba

Maro Michalakakos

Born and raised in Athens, dividing her life between Greece and France, Maro Michalakakos became known through a substantial body of work in which figures and themes emerge in a state of tension. Woven of family memories and cultural references, her universe is more given to creations on the edge of dreams, filled with an apparent calm, intentionally positioned midway between reality and the imaginary dimension. She has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Greece, Europe, USA and Turkey and has repeatedly collaborated with important theatrical directors and Institutions for the creation of stage environments (National Theater, Athens and Epidaurus Festival, Onassis Stegi, Poreia Theater). Many of her works have been acquired by significant public and private collections (Fonds Nationale d’art Contemporain, Istanbul Modern, D.Daskalopoulos collection etc)

“I am exploring the relationship between life and death; the way in which awareness of the inevitability of the end, of individual finiteness but also of the collective cycle of life, resonates in the perception and ultimately, in the quality of human life. maromichalakakos.com

The perception we have of our finiteness changes with age. My work evolves in this same rhythm.

I use scalpels to shave velvet. I can see the end. I’m forced to stop by the weft of the fabric. I paint birds. Birds have the power to fly and scratch without guilt. Are these powers the conditions of freedom? The connection between scalpels and talons is evident.”

Maro Michalakakos

Eleni Riga

Eleni Riga is an independent curator and co-founder of the art & research platform hd.kepler. In 2019-2020, she worked at Adult & Academics Programs at the Museum of Modern Art in New York where where she conceived the public program on the intersection of ecology and feminism (Ecología y feminismo) inviting Inés Katzenstein, Director, Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Research Institute for the Study of Art from Latin America, and Curator of Latin American and the artist Regina José Galindo. Previously she worked as Director of Contemporary Art at Eleusis 2021 European Capital of Culture where she established the artist residency on installation art “Initiator” and as a curatorial assistant at documenta 14 in collaboration with Pierre Bal Blanc. She has collaborated with many institutions in Greece, France and Switzerland such as Kadist Art Foundation, Palais de Tokyo, Festival Antigel etc. Riga has curated the performances Axis Mundi (2020), Astrorythmes  (2018) and Going where we come from (2018) and the exhibitions Attention is an Exercise: It’s about Sharing, Practising, Tending (2018), Fragiles Nets (2018), Remediate the Everyday (2015) among others. She holds a master in curatorial studies from Université Paris 1 Panthéon – Sorbonne and has previously studied Communication, Media and Culture at Panteion University in Athens. She is above all a woman, a daughter, a sister, a person from the South.

“In contrast to the increasingly popular theories of transcendence and liquidity, we still have a body and by assuming we have one, it means we have a voice and therefore an ability of resistance and resilience. My practice explores how neoliberal policies, oppressive regimes and societal norms of organising our societies and labor are inscribed on human, plant, animal and celestial bodies. I am interested in how these bodies multiple, unstable, transient, deflect fixed notions of violence and radically negotiate the structures of interpretation. I approach my exhibitions as an exercise of attention in the sense of proximity and care.”   

Eleni Riga

AVR Synopsis – A Cross Cultural Dialogue Between the AVR Fellows

I Contain Multitudes

An Essay by Eleni Riga on AVR3

Being the first virtual curatorial fellow of ARCAthens feels like a first-born child: you take all the love and attention but you also have to be hard-working and responsible to set a good example. This metaphor is partially true because I am the older sister of a strong and courageous individual that went through many adversities so I see myself a lot in this role. There is also another element in sisterhood I regard with much respect: the equal and non-hierarchical sharing of knowledge and experience. This is how I see my meeting with the fellows Elia Alba and Maro Michalakakos and all the artists they generously shared the platform of ARCAthens with. Where I use the word ‘family’ embedded in my Greek DNA, Alba uses the word community: “I am the sum of my parts and my parts are my community” she said during the AVR3 Synopsis.

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Instagram Visual Conversation

Week 1: Food and Home

Post by Elia Alba

#instagramtakeover #ArcAthens me, Elia Alba with fellow artist Maro Michalajakos as part of our virtual residency for the next 4 weeks. Follow us as we explore themes in our practices. This week the theme will be #homeandfood 📸Supper Club dinner October 2012

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A conventional family meal,with the roast chicken as the main “character”! This installation stages an inevitable bourgeois family reunion,to question filial and carnal love.

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Post by Elia Alba

This act of anthropophagy, of man eating man, has significant roots in the history of modern art. In Brazil in 1928, the writer Oswald de Andrade (1890-1954) penned the influential “Anthropophagite Manifesto”

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Post by Maro Michalakakos

Kiss me like you’ll never kiss me again, 2015. Benefit dinner to support the @stateofconceptathens and @3_137_artist_run_space activities. Immersive performance celebrating the relation between life and death.

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Post by Elia Alba

Lucia Hierro is Dominican-American artist based in the Bronx. Her sculptures are an ode to the specificity of growing up in Washington Heights,

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Post by Maro Michalakakos

Day 3 “80 vibrating carrots”, 2014 by @marilena_aligizaki. The installatiin addresses the concept of eugenics and asexuality, through the creation of a modern virtual garden of senses.

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Post by Elia Alba

As part of my visual residency on @arc_athens I present a photograph from my photo installation “Tourists and Urbanites” (2005). In these photographs I depict a family of masked individuals traveling through New York, Mexico & Chile. The masks are created through a photo-transfer process.

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Post by Maro Michalakakos

“My Fantasy bed”, 2002.
Inspired by “Peau d’Ane”, a French literary fairytale written in verse by Charles Perrault.

A tale about patriarchy, psychological incest and female emancipation.

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Post by Elia Alba

Horace Pippin (1888-1946) was a self-taught American artist who painted a range of themes, including scenes inspired by his service in World War I, landscapes, portraits, and biblical subjects. Some of his best-known works address the U.S.’s history of slavery and racial segregation.

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Post by Maro Michalakakos

“Family affairs” 2005, @dimitris_tsoumplekas

In his photographs, videos and installations the greek artist employs the language of fable and fairytale to narrate allegorical tales of family life.

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AVR3 Curatorial Reflection #1

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Week 2: Body and Fragments

Post by Elia Alba

This photograph is part of the series “Twins and Queens” (2005-2006). Through a photo-transfer process on fabric, I created mask of female friends for other individuals to wear.

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Post by Maro Michalakakos

I spent most of my childhood in my parents’ antique shop, my personal Ali Baba’s cave. I used to accompany my father when he visited apartments for appraisals and purchases of furniture, paintings etc.

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Post by Elia Alba

Utilizing illustrations from the book Across Africa (1877) by British explorer, Verney Lovett Cameron, the figures, painted like specters and hieroglyphics, appear to dance and march. They serve as reminders of the past and of a transformative future.

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Post by Maro Michalakakos

“Anatomie de la liberté” (detail), 2020, porcelain

Hybrid sculptures, half human half animal foretelling the dystopia that will be the world of our near future. #postedbymaromichalakakos

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Post by Elia Alba

Abigail DeVille’s work are archaeological constructs that reference canonical sculptures, contemporary social issues, and the movement of solar bodies. 🪐✨🌍🌙💫🌓

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Post by Maro Michalakakos

“Miss Sparkle” (Serquet’s waking), 2017, sculptural installation by @nanasachini, book by Iordanis Papadopoulos @daily_lazy projects, curated by @margarita.bofiliou

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Post by Elia Alba

Giving thanks for friends and family and a reminder to stay positive 🧡🖤🤎

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Post by Maro Michalakakos

Post by Elia Alba

Reef and Hold (Danu), 2013, archival pigment print, 20” x 28”
🌗

This photograph is part of the series titled “Danu. Utilizing self-portrait dolls made through a photo-transfer process, the dolls are photograph in Tankah Bay in Mexico on top of Mesoamerican coral reef, which is exposed during low tides. The roots of the name Danu remain a matter of some debate among etymologists.

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“Eleni”, 2015, red velvet, 650x200x60cm
Commission by @neongreece for the “Renaissance stories” group show.
Curated by #dimitrispaleokrassas
Photo by @nikosmarkou59

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AVR3 Curatorial Reflection #2

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Week 3: Mythologies

Post by Elia Alba

Photographed on Islamorada in the Florida Keys, these young brown-skinned girls wear a mask (made through a photo transfer on fabric) of a white woman and occupy a landscape

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Post by Maro Michalakakos

“Variations carmin”, 2016, velvet
Installation view from the show #matieresarever, Centre d’art contemporain du château des Adhémar, Montélimar, France

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Post by Elia Alba

Made through a photo transfer process on fabric, I create self-portrait dolls with webbed feet and hands. The dolls draw from Caribbean and African mythologies, popular culture, fashion and science fiction.

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Head over heels #2 (Narcissus)
2017, watercolor on paper and gilded frame, 200x260cm

…On one wall of her studio stood a work in progress, another of her birds, a vulture this time, but doubled, like in a mirror, like Narcissus. There are two vultures, in fact, connected, one drowning in another, spiritually…

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Post by Elia Alba

The feminine-archetypal ciguapa is a trickster from Dominican folklore who appears in many of artist Firelei Báez’s work. The ciguapa is the product of the artist’s embrace of the usually maligned “Lilith-like wild women from the forest,” draped with hair to their backwards pointing feet, who filled the stories of her childhood. They serve as a critique of institutions that reinforce and contribute to projects of empire.

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“Goat Song”, 2019, sculpture (oxidized metal, thread, wood, acrylic) by @kostisvelonis for the second episode of @ahollowplace in collaboration with @yellowbrick_studio.
This unique project, curated by @christian_oxenius and #nikolasventourakis, invites four internationally acclaimed artists to inhabit, with a site-specific and original project, the space of a natural cave in the centre of Athens for one day.

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Post by Elia Alba

In Arabian myth, genies were created by God from fire, many years before humans were created. This is talked about in the Koran and even before the Koran was written, there is evidence that people worshiped genies. They were a lot like humans, except with magical powers.

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Post by Maro Michalakakos

“Guilt”
2017, black velvet, 310 x 100 x 80 cm
Photo by #rıdvanbayrakoğlu Prometheus was the Titan god of forethought and crafty counsel who was given the task of moulding mankind out of clay.

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In the realm of myth and pop culture, the audience often sees characters with ordinary and mundane items.

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“Treasures”, 2015, site-specific installation by @silvinadermeguerditchian for the 52 Venice Biennial.

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AVR3 Curatorial Reflection #3

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Week 4: Liquidities

Post by Elia Alba

[Sound on]In the video the doll heads are lying in a shallow pool of water. I present the idea of breathing as symbolically empowering and the idea of blowing as symbolically having the capability to change the course of things.

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Post by Maro Michalakakos

“Parallel universe”, 2010 watercolor 50x70cm
Oxygen is found in the atmosphere and in water. Water creatures need to filter the oxygen out of the water and then discard the water so that don’t drown.

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Post by Elia Alba

Titled Revelations (2002), this video clip is part of an interview I did with a Dominican woman and her response to 9/11. The use of “it was like a revelation” was her response to a recurring dream she had prior to the attacks. Yet her responses were like “revelations;” because her answers were very intertwined with her own reality, experiences and perceptions.

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“Exit Liquid”, 2009, site-specific installation for the second edition of #ReMapKM.
Photos by #panoskokkinias, #fanisvlastaras & Revecca Konstantopoulou

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Post by Elia Alba

Waterpod, by Mary Mattingly was a floating, sculptural, eco-habitat designed for the rising tides. It launched in the summer of 2009, navigated down the East River,

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Post by Maro Michalakakos

Water is Attracted to Water, hybrid performance, combining non-fictional theater, dance and music by @kateroseadams
Photo by @_niaevgenia_

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Post by Elia Alba

Multiplicities, 2001, Length 3:30 minutes💦
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In this video heads are floating in a contained body of water. From underneath the larger heads, a smaller head emerges. While the smaller head is viewed as breaking away from the group, it is what sustains it. 🌍💦💫

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“L’Amore”, 2004, mixed media @ileana_tounta_gallery
Private collection
Photos by #fanisvlastaras & Revecca Konstantopoulou

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Post by Elia Alba

Back to the “Danu”. Utilizing self-portrait dolls made through a photo-transfer process, this video clip was filmed at Tankah Bay, near Tulum, Mexico on top of Mesoamerican reef, which is exposed during low tides. The roots of the name Danu remain a matter of some debate. Some scholars have connected the name to the Danube River also point to other Indo-European languages where the word means “to flow” as well as names for different goddesses.

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“Bouquet Final”, 2012, site-specific installation by @michelblazy

French artist Michel Blazy filled a 13th century Parisian monastery with showers of soapy foam.

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AVR3 Curatorial Reflection #4

Tune in to curator @elenrica Eleni Riga’s final Curatorial Reflection. Eleni reflects on @maromichalakakos Maro Michalakaos and @asahinyc Elia Alba’s visual conversation from the past week.

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