Opening: Thursday, June 23 2022
Exhibition duration: 23 June – 23 July 2022
Location: Alma Gallery – Athens (in cooperation with Lola Nikolaou Gallery – Thessaloniki)
Curator: Stephanos Tsitsopoulos
Participating artists: Diamantis Aidinis, Andreas Vousouras, Melina Georgouda, Thalia Gatzouli, Kostis Damoulakis, Thanasis Dapis, Stamatis Theocharis, Giannis Kalyvis, Christos Kalfas, Capten, Nikos Kaskouras, Michalis Kiousis, Peggy Kliafa, Dimitris Kokoris, Marina Krontira, Nikos Kryonidis, Dimitra Lazaridou, Stamatis Laskos, Kyriaki Mavrogiorgi, Katerina Mertzani, Fotios Balas, Manolis Bitsakis, Konstantinos Patsios, Rania Ragou, Νikos Stamatiadis, Vana Fertaki
Peggy Kliafa participates with two artworks:
“LOVE – POWER”, 2022, Light box made of plexiglass, empty medical vials of carnitine, led light, cable, 50 x 100 x 10 cm
“LOVE”, 2022, Assemblage of small round aluminum foils from the back side of the pills΄ blisters on canvas, acrylic spray, frame and museum quality glass, 50 x 100 x 7 cm
A group exhibition about desire, identity and acceptance, based on a magnificent ode to love and tenderness.
1977, forty five summers ago: Elvis has left the building, universal lament, the king of rock’n’roll is dead. The news rapidly travels all across the world, a world used to communicate through radio, (which kept transmitting his music for days on end), via television, (that kept broadcasting snippets of his numerous films), and newspapers, all of them lamenting his loss
Under general consensus by audiences and critics alike, the music performed by Presley, a farm boy hailing from Memphis that went on to conquer the world, united black gospel and blues with white country. The equally black in origin jazz and swing were combined with the primarily white rockabilly in a way that brought together an interracial, humane and multidimensional sound. Elvis’ repertoire and all around persona ran away from identity barriers and his voice became a multiracial, multireligious and unifying symbol. Beyond the youthful revolution in ethics, the liberated sexuality and an overall rebellious attitude, expressed through lewd language, eccentric clothes and hairstyles and an image that caused an earthquake, Elvis’ music united a divided America in more ways than one, acting as a prelude for the civil rights movement, feminism, the struggles and radical themes that a few years later, during the sixties, transformed the deeply conservative and dark face of the United States and beyond.
Love me tender: Forty five summers after that fateful summer of 1977, Elvis returns. Naturally not in the form of a conspiratorial scenario, one among many that want him very much alive somewhere between Sirius or Hawaii, but rather through an exhibition that pays tribute to his ideas and radicalism. Love me tender: The Alma Gallery in Athens, in cooperation with Thessaloniki’s Lola Nikolaou Art Gallery, have invited 30 artists to think and act upon Elvis’ ground breaking persona, and particularly on the message delivered by Love me Tender, a song which carries a vital history lesson.
Love me Tender was composed in 1861, amidst the tortuous civil war. It was however sung by Northern and Southern forces alike. The original song was entitled Aura Lee and the tune succeeded in surmounting the division between pro and anti slavery sides, and was hummed along the camp fires of both Northern and Southern troops. When Elvis rearranged the tune with new lyrics in 1956, he did so in full intention of abolishing all sorts of barriers. Tenderness is the message and love is both the signifier and the signified in the context of the song. Particularly here, in Love me Tender, Elvis’ appropriation of Aure Lee, the mellowness of his delivery and the re-imagined lyrics transform the civil war era subject into a hymn to love and tenderness.
In the words of Stefanos Tsitsopoulos, who has curated the exhibition, “one can simply replace the letter t with a g and Love me tender becomes Love me gender. Half a century after its initial rendition, the song is timely again. Love me tender: Desire, tenderness, inclusion, respect and equal rights. The struggle of all sexes and identities, whether it’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, non binary, queer, pansexual, asexual, intersexual or cisgender commands an end to all biases imposed by a heteronormal establishment. That’s the idea of the Love me Tender exhibition: Visibility, respect, love and the right to self-definition without mockery or any kind of constraint. This idea, encompassed by this particular song is served by the guest artists, by whatever creative means one deems necessary”. More images, more love, more tenderness and more freedom at Alma gallery, which presents for its last exhibition of the season a unique song in marvelous interpretations, translations and “arrangements”.
Stefanos Tsitsopoulos is a journalist for the Athens Voice newspaper, as well as a fiction writer and radio producer.