Objects, sounds, images: how does human experience register in the ecosystem of the Greek feast? The interdisciplinary collective work titled “Xirómero/Dryland” by Thanasis Deligiannis, Elia Kalogianni, Yorgos Kyvernitis, Yannis Mihalopoulos, Fotini Papachristopoulou, Fotis Sagonas, and Kostas Chaikalis, as well as curator Panos Giannikopoulos, travels at the 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia at Pavilion of Greece, powered by Onassis Culture.

Drawing upon the experience of the panighíria -local festivals- of mainland Greece, Thessaly and the area of Xirómero, “Xirómero/Dryland”, investigates the experience of a village festival by following its course from the village square all the way to its outskirts, and to the surrounding land. It consists of a piece of agricultural irrigation equipment which synchronizes the sound, video and lighting environments that make up the installation in real time. “Xirómero/Dryland” is a hybrid installation that embarks on a visual examination of the human experience within the ecosystem suggested by the Greek feast, from the center of a rural settlement to the ridges of the surrounding agricultural landscape. Utilizing tools and means from various artistic fields, a usable watering machine are transferred to the Greek Pavilion space as a central part of a spatial composition further comprised of a video installation, sound environments, lighting fixtures, and the element of water.


The artists say: “Between the fair, the underground clarinet shop, the field, the farm shed and the church are the lives, voices and imagination of folk musicians, and a whole world that goes along with them. There are of course those, men, but mostly women, who have stopped being part of this ever-renewing world. Their centrifugal journey is, in the background, the one that defined the contours of our project. The substrate is the experience and memory of one of us, who as a child watches and listens to the celebration from afar at night and sometimes sits on the hose of the sprinkler while it is being unrolled in a field in the Thessalian plain. With these thoughts and the primary intention to set in motion an open process of artistic research, we started at Margaroni Residency to explore the human experience of absence and presence in the ecosystem that creates the Greek festival. We traced the route from the centre of a provincial settlement to the edges of the agricultural landscape that surrounds it. We started from the square, where the festival is set up, on the slabs and concrete, from the festival and its economy, the working musicians and farmers, the poster, the tape, the electricity, the sound amplification, the space, the food, the children, the tree, the rain, the field, the tractor, the water, the watering machine, the soil, the cotton, the absence of a woman. In order to make this journey, we gathered in the countryside, in the streets, in former industrial spaces, where we tried out actions and materials, but also online, discussing on three-dimensional models, since all or some of the things that move us had to fit into the Greek pavilion in a way that left space for absence to speak. At a distance from the aesthetic processing of the objects that make up the installation – a gesture of unmediated performativity – the importance of the composition is emphasized: within a shell, similar on the outside to a church without a dome, which, having lost its internal hagiography, now resembles a rural warehouse, where machinery conjures up the agony of national representations. A shift between dominant and marginalized cultural object, which seems to create the intermediate space for the constitution of new meanings. Guided by sound and its materiality, with Xiromero/Dryland we seek a multi-sensory experience, proposing an allegorical geography that hears the fair and sees the water.”

The curator of the Greek Pavilion, Panos Giannikopoulos, notes: “In Xiromero/Dryland, pause and activation, centre and periphery, action, reaction or inertia are framed by the active gaze of the viewer who is invited to assist in the stitching of the contrasting material. The work is the result of group work. The artists question the limits of participation, hierarchies, the context of the production of a cultural product and its form, while trying to avoid a priori allocations of positions. The grid concerning the distinction between mind and body, subject and object is disrupted, while sensory experience comes before its cognitive function. Artistic practice does not respond to pure classifications, thus disarticulating cultural fields and merging them. The high and the low, artistic performance and festival, theatre and visual arts, entertainment, fiction and documentation, mourning, all seem to come together. There is no imitation, but escape from interpretation, while the cultural object is reconstructed and the body functions as a vehicle for being there and facing the functional everyday world, overriding exegetical theories and closed systems of reference: dance remains open.”

The 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, titled “Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere,” curated by Adriano Pedrosa, will be open from April 20th to November 24th at the Giardini and Arsenale venues.

Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 11 am – 7 pm (from 20 April to 30 September) & 10 am – 6 pm (from 1 October to 24 November).


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