The Garden Sees | Athens, 2017

The Garden Sees 

Curated by: Anna Kafetsi

Project Participation: Icesongs Squared

Megaron Mousikis

Duration of exhibition: 6 July – 17 September 2017

Athens, Greece, 2017

The Artists:
Zbyněk Baladrán, Matthew Barney, Natalie Yiaxi, Jorge Galindo & Santiago Sierra, Douglas Gordon, Katerina Zacharopoulou, Amar Kanwar, William Kentridge, Phanos Kyriacou, Andreas Lolis, Jenny Marketou, Kostas Bassanos, Shirin Neshat, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Eleni Panouklia, Nikos Papadopoulos, Rena Papaspyrou, Rania Bellou, Pipilotti Rist, Danae Stratou, Maria Tsagkari, Maria Tzanakou, Nari Ward, Maaria Wirkkala

The exhibition included installations, sculptures, text-sculptures, video projections, luminous and
sound works in approximately 85 different spots of the Megaron Garden.

Exhibition entitled The Garden sees (the title of one of the Three Poems under a Flag of Convenience by Odysseas Elytis) is presented in the Garden of the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron) and the so-called Service Yard.
The history of the Garden is more or less known. It originated from the segmentation of a public space, the Eleftherias Park, from which it is separated by fencing, thus creating an enclosed area of 22 acres, a protected and guarded “shelter” of particular natural beauty, on the boundary between private and public space. The new underground buildings of the Megaron lie hidden in a considerable depth under the Garden’s surface.
The Service Yard is a sheltered area of particular industrial character at the garage entrance with direct access from Kokkali street and originally intended for waste recycling and bulk cargo loading.
The initial stimulus for the exhibition is the enclosed world of the Garden and its hidden secret. It is also the relations that are born in its own body, cut off from its natural continuity in the public space, with areas of reverie and sociability, with hiding places, trails and open green areas. And it is also its visual or even invisible contact with introverted, silent public buildings-landmarks surrounding it, such as the American Embassy, public hospitals and, of course, the Megaron itself, for which it is an exit into the light.
The exhibition The Garden sees, without the theological ormetaphysical connotations that could be read in the borrowed title, seeks the connection -the conversation- of the Garden with the social space and the City, the transcendence of the boundaries of its physical reality and its opening to imagination. The Garden, as a seeing subject, emerges from its closed physical self-sufficiency, it recalls collective memories and experiences from the public space, listens to human stories, creates new poetic relationships and fictional openings. It becomes a place of images. Each of them, through its innumerable perspectives, invites us to surpass the boundary, to experience the promenade or the contemplative moments in the Garden as continuous passages from reality to fiction.

The works in the exhibition, installations, sculptures, texts-sculptures, video projections, luminous and sound works, will be shown during the day, especially after sunset, until late at night. On the lawn and on trees, between foliage, on free screens on the ground or directly on the pavements, as well as in the utilitarian spaces of the Service Yard, the works converse in a light, playful and poetic manner with the natural environment. Emotions, associations, memories, desires meet and intersect revealing an interior garden of self-awareness and encounter.
The search of light, a broad metaphor and connective tissue of the works, lies always at the center of the exhibition, visible or guessed. A solar and moonlit search.



Icesongs Squared

ICESONGS2 comprises a video & sound work which emerged from the site-specific installation ICESONGS created by Danae Stratou and presented at La Verriere, the exhibition space of the Fondation d’ Enterprise Hermes, in Brussels in 2010. The most powerful element of the project was the astounding soundscape which had generated from sounds coming directly from the Antarctic Ocean emitted by the icebergs as they form on Antarctica’s edges, they collide against each other, squeeze out into the open sea, sail away and finally melt. These sounds, captured by water microphones1 that are lying on the seabed of the Antarctic, are now used by researchers for monitoring Antarctica’s melting ice shelf. Dr Alexander Gavrilov2 and Dr Jason Gedamke3 were kind enough to convert4 a large number of samples from their recordings, on my behalf, of the shifting icebergs’ sounds and to share them with me for the purpose of this project.

The final composition of ICESONGS, kept intact in ICESONGS2, is a 20’ minute long soundscape comprising 7 “sound-waves”. These have been synthesised by transforming and fluctuating the speed of 7 of the original – specially converted – recordings so that they vary in pitch and timbre and in this way reflect the rich range and diverse qualities of the sounds produced by the travelling, braking, colliding and melting of the icebergs. These Iceberg’s songs coming from deep within the Antarctic Ocean are like voices coming out of an imagined landscape, at once familiar and alien, so powerful that they compelled me to attempt, in collaboration with sound and multimedia specialist, Vasilis Kountouris, to create a visual imagery that could potentially accompany the soundscape and thus form a new autonomous work. The result of this collaboration is the video/sound work ICESONGS2 .

Photo Credits: Alexandra Momferatou