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Carving The Negative

"Its aim was to disrupt the traditional process of “creating”, beginning at the point of conception of a work – all way to its installation, while ascribing to third parties, stages of this process".

The CARVING THE NEGATIVE project originated during the confinement period of 2020-21. Its aim was to disrupt the traditional process of “creating”, beginning at the point of conception of a work – all way to its installation, while ascribing to third parties, stages of this process.

TTS invited the curator and art historian, Sotirios Bahtsetzis, the art historian and consultant, Dimitris Spyrou, and the researcher, Chrysoula Lionis who invited in return the participation of two visual artists each in the project. Sophia Dona, Maria Papadimitriou and Eliana Otta, George Maraziotis, Ilias Papailiakis and Panos Sklavenitis are the artists whose contribution served as the catalyst of the entire endeavor since they offered written ‘art text” of two hundred and fifty words describing the idea of a new work of any discipline that had not yet been realized.

The aforementioned artists consented to provide TTS with the right to use their ideas in the workshops’ exercises while giving the exclusive right to the participants to co-sign their works – instantly rendering them creative concessionaires under the guidance of the three curators.

With the six artist texts at hand, we carried out three workshops beginning in the mainland (Chora) of Tinos at ΚΟΙΝΩΝΩ, The Tinos Art Gathering under the curatorial guidance of Sotirios, following up in Chalkida, Evoia in collaboration with Tidal Culture Lab under the curation of Dimitris and finally ending up in Agia Paraskevi of Lesvos at the K-Gold Temporary Gallery under the curation of Chrysoula. The task of the participants was to interpret the artist texts and act upon collective manifestations of ephemeral creative gestures for each of the ideas. Provided with the guidance of the curators – that is, of a real regisseur, director and a maestro simultaneously, the creative concessionaires manifested gestures in the spaces of the hosting platforms in the absence of the contributing artists.

The role of the curators in those three occasions was primarily educational, since they were called to inspire the participants towards the interpretation of the art texts and the creation of ephemeral creative potentialities of in-situ gestures deriving from the key concepts of their written words.

A total of eighteen photographs documents the collective gestures. Each art text was interpreted and realized three times, while TTS’s subject of study was the curatorial approaches implemented and the interpretations of the concessionaires.

TTS and its members found themselves to perpetually redefine their own practices through this exercise. We became more malleable in this process.

The participants of August of ’21 in Tinos consisted of vacationers, by-standers, neighbors, members of other activities of ΚΟΙΝΩΝΩ, artists, scientists, researchers, mothers, retirees, Tinians and not. Sotirios Bahtsetzis’ degree of difficulty in the Figtree garden, at the Tinian Chora, in 42°C, was significantly high. Sotiris’ gentle demeanor, eloquent sense of humor and his psychoanalytic approach paved pathways for conceptual journeys within the Tinian landscape. In the process, we embraced the land as our guide, while we covered immense distances contrary to the theoretical framework we faithfully serve in our own practices.

In Evia, the skies opened up, it was September. The soil was soaked; the vines, the harvest, the leaves and the roots were moist. Dimitris Spyrou had the apt idea to lead the workshop and the action at the Avantis Estate outside of Chalkida. A different group; artists, private and civil servants, directors and patrons. The same texts by the same artist, and Dimitris had the double role of the workshop curator and that of the artistic director of Tidal Culture Lab. We, strangers to each other, we piously hear the rain and our voices at first. Very fast, the context literally found us attending to the ways of the vineyard; we adorned ourselves with vine leaves, stretched our bodies, we dug, we filled with mud, water, smells and flavors. The stories and testimonies of the participants after the catastrophic fire in North Evia added to the contributed artists’ texts. Their angst charged and motivated the creative gestures temporarily manifested through this action.

Finally, this experimental workshop came to its end in October of ’21 in Agia Paraskevi, Lesvos. We were welcomed by the artistic director of K-Gold Temporary Gallery, Nicolas Vamvouklis. Chrysoula Lionis is the curator of this final mission. It was the most appropriate choice for the multidimensional discussions that occurred in Lesvos, always stimulated by the written texts of the artists. The reality is that in October of ’21, we encountered in the village of Agia Paraskevi a group of twenty highly educated participants. The workshop of the first day proceeded effortlessly; the discussions had a smooth flow and the exchange of ideas enriched each text significantly. The second day, more members were added to our team and we were finally called to realize an action in the village’s square. Nothing is hidden from the eyes of the habitué of the square. Οur enthusiasm led us in the street. We interrupted people from finishing their lunch and our audacious bearing was perceived as the new mode of etiquette; a note of dissonance in the smooth Groundhog Day-life of the square.

Stefanos Kosmidis and occasionally, Vasiliki Iatropoulou of ORKI Creative Agency accompanied us in this journey while covering the three workshops and actions. ORKI has been a invaluable eye-witness of this project.

Finally, the founders of the collaborating platforms, Christos Artemis, Dimitris Spyrou and Nicolas Vamvouklis were indefatigable and genuinely generous as co-hosts of the workshops. I sincerely thank them.

Translation from Greek GK

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