Lost and shared: Approaches to collective mourning towards transformative politics

Acknowledging the simultaneous processes of loss that shape contemporary local and planetarian crises, artists, thinkers and performers address the current meaning of mourning. For it is within grieving and struggling realities that new political forces shall be created to reconnect ourselves with love, desire and transformation.

From October 22th to 31st 2021

Opening: October 22th 7 pm – Opening hours: 4 – 7 pm

Curated by Eliana Otta

Artists: VASKOS (Vassilis Noulas and Kostas Tzimoulis), Valinia Svoronou, Grigoria Vryttia, Maria Varela, Christina Phoebe, Sphynx, Antigoni Bunny Tsagaropoulou, Eliana Otta

Talks, performances, workshops (COVID allowing) by: Marios Chatziprokopiou, Christina Phoebe, Fotini Gouseti, Gene Ray, Marina Miliou, Xanthoula Dakovánou, Marianne Tuckman, Theo Ilichenko, Nuno Cassola

Artists, poets, researches, performers, explore the creation of devices, texts and actions as possible rituals, exercises and rehearsals of collective mourning. This exhibition wishes to be not only visited but experienced: heard, touched, discussed and felt. It is the result of conversations about the connections between capitalism and depression, about the possibility of depression being an unresolved process of mourning, and about losses produced during political, economic and sanitary crises. This exhibition asks us: how could art help to create and practice collective processes of mourning? How can mourning help to transform our subjectivities and communities? How can loss help us to shape new understandings of the political and economic?

Local and planetarian emergencies demand urgently affective labor by collectivities willing to renovate social life, posing care and love as responses to the destructive regimes ruling the world. Any healing, mobilizing, regenerative transformation demands from us to acknowledge what we have lost in its proper dimension, especially in Global South societies, who take the worst part in the simultaneous processes of loss during the ongoing crisis of civilization. After a difficult and exhausting decade which changed Greece and its social dynamics, suddenly the pandemic gave a different weight to words such as crisis and mourning, but globally. And although Covid-19 hadn’t hit this country as much as others, its deeper effects on an economic and affective level are still to be seen. Meanwhile, burned forests, femicides and different violent events mark a period in which emotions seem to implode, without a space to be shown or proper words to express it. And actions such as hoping, dreaming or desiring feel awkward, naïve, pointless. Or not? Can we weave loss with hope, sadness with dreams,uncertainty with desire? Can we weave vulnerability and strength?

This exhibition show works made in dialogue with these questions, proposed as an environment that invites the visitors to share their ideas and intuitions to collectively explore (political, affective, ecological) regeneration. Through daily activities such as poetry readings, screenings, discussion and workshops, the space will be “activated” by the participants, offering itself as a site for openness, intimacy and trust.

The activities will be adapted to the corresponding Covid – 19 safety measures.

The exhibition will host a small library to be consulted by the visitors

PROGRAM

Saturday the 23th: 3:30 – 6:30 pm

Sketching rituals for the regeneration of forests

A three-hour workshop to imagine, discuss and put in practice ideas for rituals to mourn, accompany, and heal with our lost forests. This encounter is inspired by the recent fires in Greece, and is an open invitation to those who, like us, feel the need to do something without knowing exactly what. Maybe we will find out together.

The workshop will be held in English

Oi Mouries are a fluid group composed by different women at different times. Conducting the workshop, we’ll be Auriane Blanc, Thalia Dimitropoulou Isabel Gutierrez, Maria Juliana Byck, Eliana Otta, Vasilikí Sifoustratoudaki and Sanem Su Avcı.

Sunday the 24th: 7 – 9 pm

Surrounded by sunsets /// work-in-progress film screening and discussion

“Surrounded by sunsets” (working title) is an ongoing docufiction film project tracing the impact of the violent loss of Zak Kostopoulos/Zackie Oh on the Athenian queer community, experiences of grieving, and the ways she/he has been collectively mourned. While paying homage to him/her through the eyes of others, it drafts a collective portrait of a community in grief and honours its breathtaking effort to fight for and cherish her/his memory, keeping them alive and present. Diving in and out of private and public spaces, moving between intimate encounters and conversations, protest marches, drag shows, performances and community gatherings, we follow a nascent social movement and hope to gently touch and preserve the glimpses of queer mourning’s capacity to transform social violence, exceed traumatic loss, forge its own mythologies and, if even briefly, create possibilities of collective grieving, healing and social change – when resistance to mourn and refusal to let go become mourning as resistance, poetic justice and an act of love.

The conversation will be held in English

Theo and Nuno will share the work in progress, introducing their approach to filmmaking practice, interested in film as an affective medium of care, engaged witnessing and compassionate companionship, in which image-making acts as resistance to loss, and caring – as “the intimacy with the violence of the world” (Vqueeram), aiming to create visual spaces to grieve, spaces for the impressions of others to be treasured and kept alive.

Theo Ilichenkois an artist and filmmaker from Russia. Their work is dedicated to mourning practices in queer communities as ways of transforming social violence into collective care and skills of solidarity, as well as gendered violence, politics of grief, and art as grassroots survival technology in marginalised communities. They hold a degree in Art in Context at the Berlin University of the Arts and have background in visual art, performance and film, as well as in social work with migrants, refugees and violence survivors. www.tvilichenko.com

Nuno Cassola Marques, visual artist and co-founder of the community center Khora, in Greece. http://khora-athens.org – http://nunocassola.com

Monday the 25th: 6 – 8 pm

Love, loss and mourning in the time of Eco-Genocide

Reading and conversation with Gene Ray.

A few years ago, Gene wrote that “mourning today will not be adequate, will not be radical enough, if it does not reground us and passionately re-entangle us in the whole planetary community of life.” Written in 2016, this essay “wrestles with the emotions triggered by anthropogenic extinction and human species supremacism, and argues for collaborative project of productive, politicized, decolonizing cultural mourning.” Five years and a pandemic after, it seems more urgent than ever. 

The reading and discussion will be held in English

Gene Ray writes about memory politics. He lives near Athens, attempts to grow herbs and tries to swim in the sea every day.

Tuesday the 26th: 7:30 – 9:30

Συλλογικός θρήνος μέσα από τη φωνή και τη μουσική : παραδοσιακά και σύγχρονα μοιρολόγια

Από την Ξανθούλα Ντακοβάνου, MA, PhD

Σε αυτή την πολυθεματική παρουσίαση, η τραγουδίστρα-συνθέτιδα και ιατρός-μουσικοθεραπεύτρια Ξανθούλα Ντακοβάνου αναλύει πώς η φωνή και η μουσική υποστηρίζουν τις παραδοσιακές κοινωνίες να ξεπεράσουν το πένθος και την απώλεια, κι ακόμα πώς μπορούμε να χρησιμοποιήσουμε τη μουσική για να μας βοηθήσει να διαχειριστούμε τα πένθη που βιώνουμε στους σύγχρονους καιρούς κρίσης.

Το πρώτο μέρος της παρουσίασης ξεκινάει με ένα φωνητικό εργαστήρι που εμπνέεται από την ηπειρώτικη πολυφωνία κι έχει σκοπό να δείξει πώς αυτές οι πανάρχαιες μουσικές φόρμες βοηθούν στο μοίρασμα του ατομικού ψυχικού πόνου με την κοινότητα και πώς μπορούμε να τις χρησιμοποιήσουμε για να διαχειριστούμε σύγχρονες ‘απώλειες’.

Με αφορμή την πρόσφατη κυκλοφορία του δίσκου της Lamenta : Από τις παραδόσεις της Ηπείρου στη σύγχρονη jazz, ο οποίος πραγματεύεται μουσικά την προβληματική της απώλειας και του θρήνου, η Ξανθούλα έπειτα θα τραγουδήσει και θα μοιραστεί μουσικές του δίσκου, βίντεο και φωτογραφίες από το ομώνυμο έργο σύγχρονου χορού των Koen Augusijnen και Rosalba Torres Guerrero, το οποίο αυτή τη στιγμή περιοδεύει σε όλη την Ευρώπη.

Συλλογικός θρήνος, φωνή, μουσική και μετουσίωση θα είναι οι λέξεις-κλειδιά μας γι αυτή την παρουσίαση.

Tο εργαστήριο και η παρουσίαση θα πραγματοποιηθούν στα ελληνικά

Η Ξανθούλα Ντακοβάνου είναι τραγουδίστρια-συνθέτιδα, ιατρός και διδάκτωρ ψυχανάλυσης και ψυχοπαθολογίας. Έχει εκδόσει μέχρι σήμερα 3 δίσκους στο Παρίσι και είναι καλεσμένη τραγουδίστρια σε 13 ακόμα δίσκους σε όλη την Ευρώπη. 

Έχει γράψει επίσης 10 άρθρα πάνω στο αντικείμενο φωνή, μουσική και ψυχανάλυση ενώ συνεργάζεται διδακτικά με τα Πανεπιστήμια Σορβόννη Παρίσι 5 και Εθνικό και Καποδιστριακό Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών. 

Xanthoula Dakovanou – Lamenta, The album

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPJHYglJvC4

Friday the 29th:  6 – 8 pm

Introduction to funeral stripping.Embodied skills of solidarity in grief workshop

 The workshop is an invitation to reflect on and practice how we show up for each other in grief situations. Through different physical, storytelling and performative exercises, we’ll explore the idea of delegated mourning as a form of care, affective witnessing and attunement, and try to embrace mutual emotional exposure through practicing trust and consent. Being with each other through loss often means making a gesture of solidarity towards the other from a place of not knowing, while maintaining a respectful boundary towards the uniqueness of their experience. Departing from the idea that empathy is a skill that can be trained, we’ll exercise listening to the unknown and negotiating intimacy and distance to expand our capacity to care for each other in grief, stay present in the face of intense emotions, befriend awkwardness and get cozy in the eye of a storm while keeping a possibility of playfulness in an emotionally charged subject. As we try to refine our bedside manners for end of the world situations, we ask if this could bring us closer towards a more sustainable collective redistribution of affective and care labour and slightly more livable daily realities for those touched by profound losses.

The workshop will be held in English.

To participate, please register writing to elianotta@yahoo.com

Theo Ilichenkois an artist and filmmaker from Russia. Their work is dedicated to mourning practices in queer communities as ways of transforming social violence into collective care and skills of solidarity, as well as gendered violence, politics of grief, and art as grassroots survival technology in marginalised communities. They hold a degree in Art in Context at the Berlin University of the Arts and have background in visual art, performance and film, as well as in social work with migrants, refugees and violence survivors. www.tvilichenko.com

Saturday the 30th

Whatever is at stake, I take – Performance

Nose and mouth left home. Lost for a time, they find each other every night. After the golden hour has settled and day, preparing for bed, is sliding into a new skin, they speak in silence. They have no eyes but they touch. They whisper, negotiating in murmurs: how close should we get? 

A solo duet for Now rehearsing proximity, distance and gaze. Using the actions of intimacy from Before, we try to get closer. Two body parts in one physicality, two bodies in one skin, two voices in one beat.

Marina Miliou-Theocharaki is a performer, writer and curator based in Αthens, Greece. She researches the relation of voice to gender and the ever-changing role-play between subject and object, contemplating on the politics of hosting and the ways we address intimacy. http://marinamt.com/

Marianne Tuckman Dance Theatre Artist and Poet, graduated from Northern School of Contemporary Dance in 2015 with First Class Honours and the NSCD Writing award. https://mariannetuckman.hotglue.me/

Sound system by Dimitris Patsaros

Sunday the 31st: 6 – 8

SCHREBERMASCHINE – Performance

In his Memoirs (1903), Dr. Daniel Paul Schreber (1842-1911), ex-president of the Senate and psychiatric clinic intern, reveals his paranoid system: humankind is in danger of extinction. The only route to its redemption, and his personal salvation, is for him to become a woman and, fecundated by divine rays, give birth to a new human species. He is at the same time the suffering yet resurrected Jesus and the Virgin Mary: a body following a sacred, yet never fully accomplished, process of gendered metamorphosis. Schreber describes in detail the alienating voices hammering at his nerves: incessant murmurs; sentences left incomplete; words uttered in delay; mechanical birds parroting homophone words, but also his attempts to resist them: counting in foreign languages, reciting poems, playing the piano, or even staging self-made operas.

Presenting one of the most influential cases in the history of psychiatry, his book continues to trigger psychoanalytical, philosophical, and cultural analyses, but also to inspire artistic works. Besides Freud’s (1911) and Lacan’s well-known readings (1981), Deleuze and Guatarri also referred to the Memoirs in Anti-Oedipus (1972), supporting their anti-Freudian thesis that the unconscious is not a representational theatre, but a ‘factory’. According to this view, Schreber cannot be reduced to an ‘Oedipal’ model. His process of ‘becoming woman’ is not just the symptom of repressed homosexuality, related to the dominant figure of the father. His schizophrenic mind is a desiring machine.  

Inspired by Schreber/ anti-Oedipus, this lecture performance revisits his Memoirs, its multilayered reception, but also my personal journey through it. Linking Schreber’s account with gender troubled autobiographical material, I focus on the aural torture and resistance of this patient/author/performer, but also on the phantasmagoric allure of his religious delirium. In the intersections between poetry and theory, I seek to unravel both the ‘factory of voices’ imposed by patriarchy and voices of embodied resistance, and to unpack the sounds of martyrdom, but also the polyphony of gender transformation. 

Marios Chatziprokopiou A poet, performer, and researcher based in Athens, Greece. His first poetry book Local Tropics (‘Topikoi Tropikoi’) (Antipodes 2019) investigates issues of queer mourning and desire in relation to folk poetic traditions. He translates Clarice Lispector from Portuguese to Greek, and works as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Thessaly.

Gunmetal blue / Tears asunder – Performance

A dedication echoing entangled mourning evoked by death of a lover, gendered violence, migration and disability, and how they shape the way I move and speak – into an offering of a moving erotic body in pain, where a ghost of a dead lover caresses a phantom limb of a home country, shimmering gunmetal blue.

Theo Ilichenkois an artist and filmmaker from Russia. Their work is dedicated to mourning practices in queer communities as ways of transforming social violence into collective care and skills of solidarity, as well as gendered violence, politics of grief, and art as grassroots survival technology in marginalised communities. They hold a degree in Art in Context at the Berlin University of the Arts and have background in visual art, performance and film, as well as in social work with migrants, refugees and violence survivors. www.tvilichenko.com

Monday 1st November 7 – 9:30 pm 

Amygdaliá: screening and discussion on the entanglements of collective action and national identities in Greece.

The screening of the film Amygdaliá will be followed up by a discussion between her director, Christina Phoebe, Fotini Guiseti and Eliana Otta. Notions of patriotism, activism, territory and migration will be addressed considering how racialized and gendered dimensions are at play in the construction and performance of Greek national identity.* 

*This conversation is informed by a close reading of the book Surplus Citizens by Dimitra Kotouza. The book will be available for consultation during the duration of the exhibition.

The discussion will be held in engreek and probably exceed that binarism.

To participate, please register writing to elianotta@yahoo.com

Christina Phoebe: Artist and filmmaker. A graduate of New York University, her work reflects on diasporic memory and experiences through performance, gesture and play. Amygdaliá (2019) is her feature length film. She is a member of the working group of the United African Women Organization. Her second feature film is currently in production.  

Fotini Gouseti: Visual artist and PhD Candidate in Anthropology at the University of Thessaly. Her artistic practice and academic research explore the role of art in society. The latest years she works on the merge of art and anthropology as potential tool for social change.

Eliana Otta: ​​Artist with a Master in Cultural Studies and Phd Candidate at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna. Co-founder of the artists run space Bisagra and coordinated the Curatorial Team at Lugar de la Memoria, Lima, Peru.