Maria Papadimitriou Why look at Animals? AGRIMIKÁ at the Greek Pavilion Venice Biennale

Using these key themes. Fascism, the loss of the real and the utopia to demonstrate how the artists representing  Greece have responded to these concepts and how they have utilised some of them in their work shown at the Venice Biennale.

The artist Maria Papadimitriou created the artwork for the Greek Pavilion. Her installation Why look at Animals?  AGRIMIKÁ (Fig. 1) was a shop situated in Volos that had been transported in impeccable detail to Venice for the Biennale. This simulated shop creates a dialogue between humans and animals, raising concerns surrounding various topics from politics and traditions to ethics and aesthetics. Papadimitriou’s work links to John Berger’s text of the same name, which explores how human relationships with nature have been broken due to the consumerist age we now live in. Both Berger and Papadimitriou explore the shocking reality of how animals that used to be such an important part of mankind’s existence have now been pushed aside in favour of technologies and simulated food (Berger, 2009). This leads to the loss of the real, theorised by Jean Baudrillard. In his book Simulacra and Simulation Baudrillard suggests that postmodern culture has caused people to become reliant on technologies ‘models and maps’ and as a result we, as a society, have lost contact with the real. Our reality becomes simulated, viewed through screens and replicas. (Baudrillard, 2004) Papadimitriou replica of the little shop from Volos is a prime example of this concept. The replica becomes the reality; the little shop now in Venice becomes a reality to those who see it. The reality of the shop appears unchanged by time and space. It is at a glance and in detail the shop from which it is replicated. The shop becomes a dead object of sorts, an object that has been moved from its normal cultural context and into this gallery environment, changing its function. Dead Objects is a term that is used in the French film Statues also Die by Alain Resnais and Chris Marker, which comments on the perception of objects and artefacts. (Fig. 2)

Hal Foster also comments on ‘dead objects’ and simulation in his essay in which, when discussing tableaux artist Robert Longo he says “We are once again in spectacle – but, more, we are in a “world of simulation” (Foster, 1985:80). This applies to the work in the Greek Pavilion, and suggests that by simulating/ replicating Papadimitrious work it results in creating a spectacle, whether that was her intention or not. Art is a spectacle, or at least tries to be. Papadimitrious’s work is tableaux, with its narrative and simulated reality.

In conclusion the themes of fascism, loss of the real and moving on from that to the idea of the utopia are ideas and themes present in contemporary artworks today. This is evident in selected works of Venice Biennale artists  Maria Papadimitriou from the Greek Pavilion. T Greek Pavilion responds to the concept of the loss of the real, it’s simulated facade creates a replica of an original, but to those viewing the work it is itself the original. The use of these themes in such a prestigious platform as the Venice Biennale show that these key concepts derived from Hal Fosters essay Contempryary Art and Spectacle are in fact still relevant to the contemporary art scene today.

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Fig 1. Why look at Animals? AGRIMIKÁ (2015)

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Fig 2. Statues also Die (1953)

Bibliography

 

Enwezor, O. (2015). All the World’s Futures: 56 International Art Exhibition. La Biennale di Venezis Box Edition. Marsilio.

Jean and Shelia Faria Glaser (ed.) Baudrillard, (2004). Simulacra and Simulation Edition. University of Michigan Press

Foster, H. (1985). Recordings: Art, Spectacle, Cultural Politics. Washington: Bay Press.

Foster, H. (1996). The Return of the Real. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Marx, K. & Engels, F. (1888). The Communist Manifesto. London: Pluto Press.

Rose, M. (1984). Marx’s Lost Aesthetic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Barron, S. (1991). Degenerate Art: The Fate of the Avant- Garde in Nazi Germany. New York: N.Abrams

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