Burning Issues was originally presented in the context of Danae Stratou’s solo show titled Burning Issues – Merimbula. Curated by Christoforos Marinos and organised by the City of Athens Culture, Sports and Youth Organisation (OPANDA), the show was hosted at The City of Athens Art Centre, in Parko Eleftherias (Freedom Park), Athens, Greece from 25 May to 10 July 2022.
The show comprised two juxtaposed installations that dramatically transformed the Arts Centre’s architectural space. To achieve this, the artist worked in close collaboration with the installation architect Maria Maneta. Danae Stratou constructed an immersive environment featuring the representation of a healthy forest (Merimbula), in one installation, and a powerful video of large sheets of paper burning incessantly at a very slow pace in the other. Highlighting fire, its symbolism, and destructive consequences. Visitors entered a space of spiritual awakening, cleansing, and purification. This exhibition by Stratou speaks to pressing issues of our time – the urgency of developing ecological awareness and strengthening environmental responsibility.
A translucent projection screen (3,5m X 1m) is suspended from the ceiling dividing the space in the middle. The projection is visible on both sides of the space as the viewer can walk around it. The space is all black with a reflective ceiling. The video depicts a sheet of paper burning in ultra slow motion and covers the screen from end to end. The video is accompanied by a ”sound-scape” which abstractly renders the sound of fire as the sheet of paper burns.
Paper is an inflammable material and, normally, burns quickly. By slowing its burning rate down considerably (using ultra-slow motion in the video image projection), a symbolic transcendence of its natural properties is achieved. This symbolism alludes to the ‘un-natural’ trajectory in which our societies find themselves currently. Burning issues are allowed to fester slowly, like for example the slow death of the reefs, the burning of the forests in Australia and the Amazon, the constant rise of inequality and job insecurity, the tortuous acidification of the oceans, the never-ending fortification of those with ill-gotten power, the tragic extinction of countless species, the quiet desperation of the disenfranchised, the migrants, the dispossessed. Like the symbolic piece of paper, a healthy, ‘normal’ social world would either burn up quickly or find ways of extinguishing the fire before it is too late. Ours seem to be burning up in slow motion, dampening our spirits and oxidizing our resolve to react creatively to the multiple crises in which we are entangled.