Installation shots of
glimmer in the absorbent; a desire for luminosity and the manipulation of night, 2022.

Courtesy the artist, commissioned by NEON

Shown at  Doomed companions, unsubstantial shades, 2022,  NEON + the Embassy of Greece in London, at the Hellenic Residence, London.

Treated mild steel, mirror polish stainless steel, custom wall stands. Dimensions variable

Photography credits to Christine Constantine 
Courtesy NEON

Doomed companion, unsubstantial shades

07.10- 12.11.2022

Hellenic Residence | 51 Upper Brook Street, London, W1K 2BT, United Kingdom

Doomed companions, unsubstantial shades is an intergenerational group exhibition presented by NEON Organization at the Hellenic Residence in London. The show introduces an encounter between the legacy of the Greek poet, diplomat and Nobel laureate George Seferis and the work of twelve Greek-speaking contemporary artists ref lecting on the themes of identity, nostalgia and trauma in the current socio-political condition.

Poet, essayist, diarist and novelist George Seferis (1900-1971) was one of the most significant Greek writers of the 20th century. Born in Smyrna, Georgios Seferiadis studied law in Paris and served his country as a professional diplomat abroad, ending his career as Ambassador to the United Kingdom, with his house and office located at 51 Upper Brook Street. Parallel to his public life, and under the pen name of Seferis, he developed a distinct lyrical voice exploring the poetic possibilities of the Greek demotic language through recurring themes of exile and nostalgia for the homeland. In 1963 he won the Nobel Prize, with the citation paying tribute to him as the most worthy representative ‘of the Greece of today’¹.

Doomed companions, unsubstantial shades confronts the personal and professional experiences, worldview and oeuvre of George Seferis to provide loose conceptual frameworks and spatio-temporal implications of diasporic life. The exhibition touches upon the politics, codes, and forms of language, unpacks the notion of the ‘divided self’ and engages with historical geopolitical events and their aftermaths – translating Seferis’s cosmology into the complex grammars of contemporary culture.

The invited artists all share a common language and migrant experiences, echoing the great poet’s ideology of national identity based on linguistic and cultural bonds rather than racial theories, while also resisting any monolithic or homogeneous representation.

Doomed companions, unsubstantial shades invites visitors to navigate across two floors of the Residence, immerse themselves in the hauntologies of its modern past, embodied in the architectural and decorative setting, and explore eighteen contemporary artworks over a plurality of mediums including historically significant pieces as well as two new commissions.

The exhibition borrows its title from Seferis’s poem Solidarity from his collection Logbook I (1940) proposing alternative futures based on collectivity, alliances and interdependency, while defying systemic failures. At a time where the aftermaths of Brexit resonate within the arts and education sectors, creating thresholds to new streams of European creative forces to enter and live in the UK, Doomed companions, unsubstantial shades celebrates the polyphony of contemporary diasporic culture while allowing us to re-imagine new ways of belonging. Even though the specificity of Greek culture is prominent, the questions asked by the artists are globally relevant, fostering the search for humanity within an age of myopic, territorial-driven monocultural imagination.

¹ Roderick Beaton, 2003, George Seferis: Waiting for the Angel: A Biography (Yale University Press)

[...] Ellie Antoniou presents glimmer in the absorbent; a desire for luminosity and the manipulation of night – a new commission that explores the state of coexisting identities within the framework of 21st century technology. Touching upon the screen-based cultures and the emergence of the hybrid self, Antoniou examines the simultaneity of the ego in relation to time and space in a sculptural installation constituted by multiple metal plates. The reflection and transition of the artificial light construct environments of absence and presence, limbo states questioning replicas of the self in the form of an abstract landscape. An extract from Seferis’s Erotikos Logos, ‘dawn breaks in the heavens’, scored into the metal plate, highlights the artist’s interest in subtraction, fostering relations between light and shadow, translation and meaning. [...]

Curated by Akis Kokkinos
Supported by NEON Organisation for Culture and Developement

Participating Artists:
Elli Antoniou
Irini Bachlitzanaki
Savvas Christodoulides
Nikos Kessanlis
Karolina Krasouli
Amanda Kyritsopoulou
Stathis Logothetis
Maro Michalakakos
Yorgos Petrou
Erica Scourti
Stefania Strouza
Andrea Tzourovits

curatorial text by Akis Kokkinos

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