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Exhibition at Museum of Cycladic Art showcases works by nine recipients of the DESTE Prize
Kostas Sahpazis, Loose bonds, 2016. Aluminium, 28 x 64 x 38 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Bernier/Eliades Gallery Photo: George Sfakianakis.

ATHENS.- Organized on the occasion of the eighteenth anniversary of the DESTE Prize, the show titled DESTE Prize: An Anniversary Exhibition, 1999-2015 showcases works by the nine recipients of the prize from 1999 to 2015 together for the first time.

Looking back at the history of the prize and offering a survey of recent artist production, DESTE Prize: An Anniversary Exhibition, 1999 - 2015 opened at the Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens on April 5, 2017 and will run through September 17, 2017. This collaboration between the DESTE Foundation and the Museum of Cycladic Art forms part of the latter's “Young Views” program that aims to engage a younger audience, bring the public up-to-date with developments in contemporary cultural production, and provide a dynamic platform for the exchange of ideas on contemporary artistic creation.

Established in 1999, the DESTE Prize is awarded biennially to a Greek or Cypriot artist living in Greece or abroad. The prize aims to showcase an emerging generation of artists and is integral to the foundation's policy of supporting and promoting contemporary art.

The artists participating in the exhibition are: Loukia Alavanou, Anastasia Douka, Eirene Efstathiou, Christodoulos Panayiotou, Maria Papadimitriou, Angelo Plessas, Georgia Sagri, Kostas Sahpazis, and Panayota Tzamourani.

The Artists
Composed of “collaged” fragments from found cinematic sources interwoven with her own film sequences, the research-based moving-image works and installations of Loukia Alavanou (DESTE Prize 2007) are an exploration of the influence of film on the formation and structuring of memory. A layered soundtrack is used as a unifier, simultaneously creating flow between the disparate images and a Brechtian
Verfremdungseffekt . Having grown up in a communist context in the transitional years of postdictatorship Greece, Alavanou embraces post-synchronization in cinema as a vehicle of parodying propaganda, exaggerating contradictions, and exploiting the “Real” and the “making-strange.”

The work of Anastasia Douka (DESTE Prize 2011) is in search of an object’s/body’s consciousness as this moves and progresses through space and time. The artist cuts down time into smaller fractions of exhaustion and stretches out its skin into space like paper on a line. In parallel, she translates languages in order to comprehend locations and recognizes that materials have the capacity to mirror her own incompetence and abilities. Douka desires to be a conductor between reciprocal, successive, and antithetic stances of the object/body as shaped by class structures, anatomical identities, and architectural restrictions.

Eirene Efstathiou (DESTE Prize 2009) works in a variety of media, from printmaking and painting, to small scale installations and performance. Her studio practice begins with compiling archival source material, as well as material drawn from deliberate wanderings in the urban landscape, as a way to re-narrate minor histories. The works’ engagement with the source material seeks to open up a space for exploring the way found images are evocative beyond their role as illustrations or “the news,” and how these minor histories are inscribed on the fabric of the city, in this way performing an informal, idiosyncratic, and humanist archaeology of the present and recent past.

The wide-ranging research of Christodoulos Panayiotou (DESTE Prize 2005) focuses on the identification and uncovering of hidden narratives in the visual records of history and time. Commenting on his work Wonder Land (2008) and where his interest in the practice of archiving originates from, Panayiotou notes, “I am not interested in archiving beyond the point where it reveals the ideology it is characterized by. I am referring to the point that it fails to annihilate. The aesthetics of archives does not appeal to me as an end in itself either. What I am interested in is the historical narratives and their structures. Through their weaknesses, archives enable us to see and perhaps reinterpret.”

The Greek word for art, techne, still holds for Maria Papadimitriou (DESTE Prize 2003) the promise of linking handwork with knowhow: a practical problem with a beautiful solution. In her work, Papadimitriou uses herself as a means to create a dialogue with other people and to understand techne as an active social process, filled with both conflict and potential. In this sense, her art-making, which is about process and change rather than the finished product, can be considered a form of activism. The artist views art production as a humanist endeavor, because she sees art in humanity as something involving and affecting human lives.

The focus of Angelo Plessas' (DESTE Prize 2015) work is to network the offline with the online in ways that help us understand both conditions. Plessas’ activities range from performances to artist residencies, from self-publishing books to creating interactive websites, and from making sculptures to conducting educational projects. Over the last four years he has organized annual, weeklong gatherings in faraway places of The Eternal Internet Brotherhood / Sisterhood and, most recently, of the Experimental Education Protocol, creating intensive experiences that blur the limits of work and free time.

The practice of Georgia Sagri (DESTE Prize 2001) focuses on the exploration of performance as an ever-evolving field within social and visual life, interconnected, though distinct from the dialectics of representation in theatre, music, and dance. In addition to performance pieces she has been developing in the past fifteen years, a great part of Sagri’s artistic output comprises video and computer works, texts, installations, and drawings. Most of her work is influenced by her on-going engagement in political movements and struggles on issues of autonomy, empowerment, and self-organization.

The work of Kostas Sahpazis (DESTE Prize 2013) is based on the properties and characteristics of materials, both as natural entities and mental structures. He constructs essential and solid bodies whose composition results from more than one material: a blending that was not aimed to happen, as the materials coexist while preserving all their original properties. The use of void and the management of the forces, which hold the surface of the objects, are considered important in the artist’s work. These two elements produce an image that is intensely perceived in the last layer and serves as the main revealing element for each work. Through the pliable raw material, the alternating forms, the assembling of elements, and the produced forms, the viewer’s experience becomes tactile and, although the works welcome an exploratory touch, the feeling of touch is already satisfied merely by sight.

Sounds, everyday materials, external environment, family, and everything that forms our everyday routine constitute for Panayota Tzamourani (DESTE Prize 1999) an inspiration for experimentation in her attempt to define the meaning and the conditions of the space that surrounds her. Organic part of this experimentation is the esthetic pursue of what is real through the modification of sounds and images. Even the parts of Tzamourani’s random video shootings are functionally combined in order to fulfill their mission, giving an esthetic and semantic outcome.

The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue (Greek/English) that honors everyone who has contributed to the prize over the past eighteen years.

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