"Floating Land" @Apothiki Art House, Paros Island, Greece
Dimitra Skandali: Floating Land
curator: dr Kostas Prapoglou
The site-specific installation of Dimitra Skandali, an artist based in both Greece and the USA, at a recently renovated building situated within the 13th century Venetian quarter of Parikia, Paros, (which is built over an ancient Greek settlement) explores ideas around the evolution of landscape in a literary as well as a metaphorical realm.
Engaging with organic material directly sourced and harvested from her motherland, the artist places emphasis on the wild flora of the island, which plays a pivotal role in her work and the way she understands our relationship with nature and the environment we all live in.
Usually working with seaweed, organic fishnets, and also with a large variety of wild plants creating medium to larger sized installations, Skandali this time receives her inspiration exclusively from two types of wild plants that characterise the entire island; helichrysum (helichrysum orientale) and wild carrot (daucus carota). The two species are also found in other remote parts of our planet inevitably establishing an ongoing dialogue among different parts of the world.
They are both known equally for their beauty, their medicinal properties since ancient times and have ultimately been embedded into the life of the island inhabitants. They have now become part of a mesmerising setting that invades the interior surfaces of the exhibition space.
The artist meticulously interconnects every single piece of the plant with copper threads that she has been extracting from waste wire she has found. For her, this process pronounces a perpetual and unbreakable interconnectivity between the plants, the earth and ourselves, concurrently posing critical questions on materials left behind by humans contaminating the place we live.
Her structures resemble a concealed network of neurons communicating with each other via synapses, in a much similar way as in a human body. It reverberates an everlasting life-cycle that turns everyone and everything into matter and then leading them towards the regeneration and rebirth of new life forms.
The sheer size of Skandali’s installation conveys the significance of symbiosis and reacts to the need for co-existence on all possible levels. Floating Land echoes the groundlessness and the ethereality of the environment she has created for us, simultaneously echoing the fragility and the ephemerality of nowness.
Layers of civilisation and changes of human topography in this very part of Paros have a common ground. The innumerable amounts of flowers and plant parts suspended from the ceiling reaching us or even touching us, manifest a sublime choreography of a universal symphony.
Skandali’s interest is not to impress the viewer with the sheer splendour of her material but to confront us with its presence and make us re-think and re-evaluate our origins and our destiny.
Viewing her floating scene from below puts everything into a different perspective. We are prompted to look up and gaze at the remnants of an airborne and drifting field until we soon realise that we might be the ones to be observed from above. We suddenly turn into the focal point of observation. We are being assessed for our actions and we gradually develop the subconscious need for introspection and self-reflection.
Please read a review by Camilla Boemio published in Exibart, on August 9, 2021 (in Italian): https://www.exibart.com/arte-contemporanea/le-corde-poetiche-della-memoria-degli-alberi/