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‘Running after her shadow…’

In her new body of work Angeliki Douveri presents us with an attempt to deconstruct the medium of photography, the very own photographic process throughout all its stages from focus up to printing, thus transforming the photographic lens into a medium of reflection of her own aesthetic. Under this process of deconstruction the artist will gradually isolate all the ‘technical’ elements which surround this medium inside as well as outside the dark room, she will even attempt to address the image of herself behind the lens, to situate herself in no-time and no-space respective of that particular moment when everything turns black after a simple click. Shadowing, masking, monochromes reminiscent of the basic colors of the printing process, photographic forms literally jumping out of her images as perhaps the only way allowing the photographer to enter the image she has perceived, compose a series of images – C Minor, Longing etc – unified by a subtle critical mood versus the genealogy of the new media, an attempt in other words to reconsider the notion of the image as the gatekeeper of contemporary realism.

Moreover, the artist also seems here to critically approach the current debate upon the moving image, that need emerging today towards a reassessment of the deliberative potential of the new technologies, that increasing demand to overcome the dominant aesthetic which every new medium seems to carry from the moment it appears in the civilization process. In ‘Shadow Cinema’ the figure of the artist herself ‘constructed by light’ is projected upon a photographic print picturing a typical scenery of the outskirts of urban landscape - a mixed media installation reminiscent in its conception of the very first cinema attempts which marked the modern experience as synonymous to the mass audiences of the gigantic exhibitions of modern innovation. The moves and gestures of this figure do not allow the viewer to conceive of any dominant image, behavior or symbolism; on the contrary, they present themselves in a random, semiotically void, almost naturalistic way reminiscent of the first modern experiments attempting to create a moving image. Thus the artist presents us here with a critique of the dominant dynamic of deliberation often in action in video art, as well as with a critical comment upon its original conception as the first non-medium (sic) which would succeed in disassociating the moving image from contemporary realism, cultural consumption and stereotyping as the guardians of current inequality throughout the social strata.

Under this approach the artist also presents two installations –In Search of Me, Dark Thoughts of a Bright Child- in which her figure, or rather her outline, do not allow the viewer any process of identification as all those particular aspects of her profile seem to be lost in this two-dimensional construction. An allegory that plays successfully with the modern edifice of the myth of the artist which initially replaced that of the grand master of pre-modernity; a myth that eventually transformed the artist himself from the key delegate of the modern break with Tradition to the key representative of a new form of tradition, the modern one, autonomous but also engaged and educational in character under the auspices of the burst of art institutionalization. A myth, the full inversion of which we seem to experience today under the aesthetization of everyday life, but also via the evolution of contemporary art per se towards an avant-garde increasingly questionable, a social stand increasingly blur, a cohabitation increasingly limited to each artistic practice and an extravaganza increasingly pre-structured and narcissist, evident in all forms of contemporary art fair.

Throughout her entire work one can then identify as a common bond an attempt to create the “negatif” of the current relationship between theory and practice which typically characterizes contemporary critique. An inversion in other words of that ‘moment’ when the advent of photography and the cinema not only gave birth to the negative dialectic and the consequent pessimism regarding the emergence of the culture industry, but also to the hope for a new social condition following the role of art in the age of mechanical reproduction and the consequent debates upon modernity and the relationship between theory and art. A genealogy which seems to explore the bilateral, today almost non-sufficient notion of the medium, through an ‘archaeology’ in its roots and non-solidified forms prior its rise as the king of spectacle and the beginning of its critical and philosophical assessment.

Fotis Kazis

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