MEMORY AND ILLNESS IN THE VISUAL-ART DISCOURSE
The visual-art project Sotiria/Salvation: Memory and Illness in the Visual-Art Discourse was an initiative of the Sotiria Hospital seeking to provide a meeting place for patients with art, and for artists with life in all its multiplicity. The project took place between June and October 2010.
Panagiotis S. Papadopoulos, the exhibition curator, cooperated with the Athens School of Fine Arts, the Friends of the Sotiria Hospital Patients, the administration and personnel of the hospital.
Art in the hospital is one of the most exciting projects for bringing the visual arts into public spaces. Moreover, the exhibition in the Sotiria Hospital is more than a visual-art display in the sensitive spaces of a hospital. The Sotiria Hospital building is a historically charged place, in which many stories have unfolded. It is the first Greek public sanatorium (1903), established in the spirit of 19th-century philanthropy. It operated, for half a century, as a place of confinement – intentional or not – for patients with tuberculosis. It was a characteristic example of a place where society isolated a special kind of persons who were deemed in a condition of crisis. During the period of the German Occupation of Greece, the Sotiria Hospital became once again associated with the country’s history through fighter executions and prisoner escapes.
Participating Artists: Artemis Agathopoulou, Athina Agorgianiti, Michalis Adamis, Giannis Aitinidis, Katerina Athanasiou, Sophia Alexandridou, Marilena Aligizaki, Rania Anastasiadou, Kostas Andreou, Aggelos Andonopoulos, Zaharias Arvanitis, Maria Aristotelous, Michalis Argyrou, Aggeliki Avgitidou, Giannis Valavanidis, Chryssa Valsamaki, Ersi Barveri, Tellos Bikendiou, Vlastaras Vassilis, Fanis Vlastaras, Polyanna Vlati, Charalambos Voutos, Caesar Vrettos, Paraskevi Gavriil, Giannis Gaitis, Eva Giannakopoulou, Katerina Goutziouli, Maria Glyka, Evagelia Goula, Sophia Grigoriadou, Emmanouil Daskalakis-Laimos, Tzina Dilmakopoulou, Krini Dimopoulou, Dimitra Dimopoulou, Vagelis Dimitreas, Kleopatra Diga, Chryssa Dourgounaki, Olga Evagelidou, Anastassia Efstathiadi, Jimmys Efthimiou, Christos Ilias, Mikaela Theodorakatou, Christos Theophilis, Aggelos Theodoropoulos, Barrios Noemi Iglesias, Marion Igglessi, Stavros Ioannou, Marianna Kavvadia, Alexandros Kaklamanos, Foneini Kallergi, Maria Karathanou, Kyriakos Katzourakis, Vassilis Katsivelakis, Athanassia Karabela, Victoria Karvouni, Gielena Katkova Anatolievna, Anthoula Koga, Vassilis Kelaidis, Nikos Kessanlis, Alexandros Kioupkiolis, Lefteris Kiourtsoglou, Peggy Kliafa-Sakkoula, Mina Kondyli, Katerina Kontarini, Despoina Kotalakidou, Elsa Kotsioni, Giannis Kounelis, Aggelos Krallis, Afroditi Krodiri, Ebdokia Kyrkou, Kostis (Triandafyllou), Vaggelis Lioudakis, Kostas Lales, Loukas Loukidis, Verinia Manthou, Rilène Μark, George Milios, Antigoni Michalopoulou, Thanassis Beroutsos, Stella Boroutzi, Chronis Botsoglou, Aimilia Bouriti, Giannis Mylonakis, Gianna Neofytou, Despoina Nissiriou, Andreas Nikolaidis, Maria Nikiforaki, Myrto Xanthopoulou, Creative Movement Team , Katerina Papazissi, Vassilis Papageorgiou, Katerina Paschalidou, Maria Papadimitriou, Nota Paterimou, Effie Papaioannou, Eleni Papanikolaou, Margarita Petrova, Apostolos Plachouris, Dimitra Politi, Ilias Poychroniadis, Marios Prassinos, Eleni Prifti, Evi Renieri, Dimitris Rendoumis, Alexia Sarandopoulou, Marina Sarmatzi, Dimitris Sevastakis, Magda Siamkouri, Ioannis Sinioroglou, Andreas Sitorengo, Dimitris Skalkotas, Dimitra Skandali, Eleni Soumi, Christina Spanou, Marios Spiliopoulos, Aggeliki Statha, Nikos Stathopoulos, Margarita Stratigou, Maria-Teraza Tzelepaki, Konstandinos Tiligadis, Vassiliki Tsalamata, Christina-Niki Tsakoumakou, George Tserionis, Dimitris Tsiantzis, Doris Hakim, Spyros Kleitoras Charalambopoulos, Panos Charalambous, Aristea Charonitou, Nikos Chatzikonstandis, Erato Chatzisavva, Stellios Cheimonidis, John Christoforou.
TEXT from the speech of the participating artist Peggy Kliafa
The invention of some medicines changed the flow of history!
This applies to the history of the Sotiria Hospital, too, I suppose, when antibiotics were invented sometime in the 1950s. First streptomycin and then other medicines, on condition of being used systematically, gave, not only the hope of healing, but healing, life itself to the sufferers of tuberculosis.
The landscape changed! The sufferer no longer went to a place such as the Sotiria Hospital to die, but to be healed: there was a window! A window thanks to the medicine. This became the theme of my work for the Sotiria/Salvation Project:
A “Window” to the world, to life thanks to medicines. A window is a limit: it divides and unites the inside and the outside. The work is a “construction”, and being in a dialogue with the permanent elements of the building, also an “installation”.
By retaining the outside dimensions and axes of the wooden elements of the existing window of the Spiliopouleio building, I designed a frame, which could be reminiscent of a church stained-glass window. It is a dark grey, almost black, wooden frame with an arch at the top and a bold cross in the middle. In place of the window panes or possible religious representations I created patterns using empty pill blisters.
The internal organization of the piece exhales balance and serenity thanks to the horizontal/vertical axis and the symmetry of the separators and internal motifs. The emerging motif was based on uniformity and depended on the available blisters – approx. 600 – with which the hospital‘s pharmacy was kind enough to provide me.
A basic characteristic of the piece is transparency and therefore its dependence on light, which energizes it, creating a multitude of effects, thus making it work better during the day, in my opinion.
The medicine is “a window to the world” by itself, both as a way out of illness and pain, and in the sense of a worldview. Taking or avoiding certain medicines, and the kind of medicines that each one of us decides to take clearly reflect our attitude towards life.
In early human societies the shaman was the representative of religion, as well as the healer, who employed the use of herbs and rituals. As societies evolved, these two capacities were entirely separated as far as the practical-material content is concerned; religion retained the abstract-mental aspects of healing (autosuggestion), and medicine preserved “magic” to some extent. This window could also evoke a church stained glass, not only because of the replacement of sacred themes by blisters, but also as a feeling. Both stained glass and blisters permit light to penetrate the space, but “moderated”. In this way they create an ambiance that encourages prayer and introspection.
In addition, the Cross is a characteristic religious symbol; its shape helped to cover the figure of the existing window, differentiating it from a common window, but it also contains a contrast:
Horizontal – vertical, life – death, precisely as the medicine does: remedy – poison.