"Small dazzled nothings" @Dafni Psychiatric Hospital, Athens, Greece
Text by Dr Kostas Prapoglou:
Dimitra's Skandali small dazzled nothings (2021) (a title borrowed by a verse of Greek poet Tassos Livaditis), is a multi-dimensional field of myriads of dry flowers and plant parts, all painstakingly woven together, creating a new lyrical landscape. Expanding over the vertical and horizontal interior surfaces of the space, the installation enacts as a new organism progressively invading the remnants of a previous life-form. It vocalises the momentary fragility and perishability of our presence on a par with that of nature’s as devastated wildfires in Greece and other parts of the planet have recently proven, while it contemporaneously symbolises the eternal and indestructible interconnectivity between natural environment and ourselves.
Reality Check at Dafni Psychiatric Hospital, Athens: curator + concept design: Dr Kostas Prapoglou / artefact athens
imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality
---- Lewis Carroll, through the mouth of Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland, 1865
The psychiatric hospital of Dafni is situated on the axis of the ancient Sacred Way connecting Athens with the town of Eleusis [where the processional ceremony of the Eleusian Mysteries used to take place in antiquity] and opposite the sanctuary of Dafnios Apollo, above which the byzantine monastery of Dafni was later built.
In an area of high spiritual and mental rebirth since ancient times, the Psychiatric Hospital of Attica in Dafni was built in 1925 as the first State Psychiatric Hospital and has been continuously functioning ever since. Curated by Dr Kostas Prapoglou in collaboration with non-profit cultural organisation artefact athens, the exhibition titled reality check took place at one of the larger –now abandoned– buildings of the hospital grounds. Its focus will transcend the objective hypostasis of a psychiatric hospital. It will gaze beyond ideas of institutional confinement, it will override mental illness as a medical condition and it will survey the structural constraints and qualities of the mind in relation with space and time.
Spacelessness [having and understanding no borders or limits] is a term that will be further investigated in this exhibition. We will also explore how consciousness, language and speech stand against gravity and how oftentimes visual landscapes turn into mindscapes and vice versa. Notions of the inside and outside will also be taken into account [where is insanity really located? Where do we normally find the real madhouse?].
This is not an exhibition about the psychiatric hospital per se; viewers will enter the micro-cosmos of an asylum but will leave having witnessed what spaceless time and timeless space might mean, filtered through the omnipresence of human consciousness. The hospital is a simple point of embarkation and reality check will bring to the fore not only the ideological follies of our existence, but it will also unpack and unfold its meaning layer after layer.
Thirty-four artists from Greece and abroad are invited to participate with site-specific and context- responsive works embracing the diversity of their visual [or non-visual] vocabulary through installations, video, soundscapes, sculpture, photography and performance. Each artist’s practice will construct a collective effort to archive possibilities with human existence as the protagonist, who is in constant battle with time and space.
Participating artists: Eozen Agopian, Lydia Andrioti, Katerina Apostolidou, Zeina Barakeh, Orit Ben-Shitrit, Brothers Quay, Robert Cahen, Lydia Dambassina, Diohandi, Angie Drakopoulos, Efi Fouriki, Aikaterini Gegisian, Yorgos Giotsas, Irini Gonou, Zoe Hatziyannaki, Daniel Hill, Marion Inglessi, Elina Ioannou, Vassilis Karouk, Renee Magnanti, Despina Meimaroglou, Vana Ntatsouli, Bill Pangburn, Eleni Panouklia, Vivi Perysinaki, Ada Petranaki, Belle Shafir, Dimitra Skandali, Marianne Strapatsakis, Lambros Taklis, Nikos Tranos, Tania Tsiridou, Marios Voutsinas, Eleni Zouni.