Opening: 30th of December 2020
Duration: 30th of December 2020 – Saturday 31st July 2021
Location: John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, City University of New York and other cultural venues
Curator: Dr. Sozita Goudouna
Organized by the non-profit platform GREECE IN USA, which is under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Culture
Participating Artists: Antelman Maria, Antonakos Stephen, Antoniou Klitsa, Athanasiou Margarita, Balaskas Bill, Bofiliou Margarita, Bourgoin Veronique, Charalambidis Nicos, Chatzipavlidou Despina & Mouriadou Anthi, D’Agostino Tim, Dimitriadi Christina, Drivas George, Finley Karen, Frangouli Nayia, Georgiou Alexandros, Geyer Andrea & Hayes Sharon, Giannakopoulou Eva, Gizeli Kleio, Hadjigeorghiou Yioula, Haritou Kleopatra, Harvey Steve C., Hunt Ashley, Inglessi Marion, Kamler Richard, Kavalieratos Dionysis, Kliafa Peggy, Kokkinias Panos, Kotretsos Georgia, Lappas Aristides, Lemos Manolis, Linardaki Eirini, Logothetis Aristides, Magnati Renee, Manouach Ilan, Mattis Daina, Migliaressi-Phoca Olga & Damaskou Despoina for SPAGHETTO, Papafigos Yorgos, Piperidou Hara, Salpistis Vassilis, Sklavenitis Panos, Spyrou Efi, Stagouraki Marilia, Stamatakis George, Stathacos Chrysanne, Susin Juli, Tsagaris Panos, Tsivopoulos Stefanos, Twitchin Mischa, Venieri Lydia, Vlahos Vangelis, Volanakis Adonis, Zygoury Mary
GREECE IN USA has also invited curator and professor Thalia Vrachopoulos to respond to the theme with a focus on Asian Artists and curator Tressa Berman to propose a historic American artist.
Peggy Kliafa participates in the exhibition with her artwork:
Silent “Cells”, 2020, 210 x 85 x 10,5 cm. Aluminum pills’ blisters, aluminum sheets, plexiglass, silicone, acrylic transparent tubes filled with aluminum foils (waste of medicines’ packaging), led light, cable
About Peggy Kliafa’s artwork:
It seems that in prisons and other forms of confinement there are apparent bars, locked doors and guards everywhere, but there are also invisible fetters. A systematic providing of mainly psychotropic and other drugs, affects the body cells and achieves the necessary silence and calm in prison cells, raising even more powerful barriers for the prisoners. Medicines can be a prison themselves even for the “free” people sometimes. Whether imposed for various reasons or asked by the prisoners as a need for escapism, they may become an addiction and addictions can be a prison too. Especially this particular kind, which is legal and rewarded.
Peggy Kliafa’s entitled SILENT “CELLS” for the exhibition “The Right to Silence?” is a sculpture representing a closed prison door in actual size, covered with aluminum pills blisters, with a small illuminated window behind transparent “bars” filled with the waste of pills blisters. The windows light seems to be coming from the inside of the cell. The title of the artwork refers to both the jail cells as well as the body cells.
A door is a border and a symbol of duality exactly like the medicines can be remedies and poison simultaneously. A closed door, heavily fortified with metallic pills’ blisters in the era of the covid 19 pandemic can have a variety of other references too. The visualization of successive lockdowns all over the world, of living and working in our houses, of the increase of drugs’ consumption combined with the psychological, social and economic problems intensified by the confinement.
About the exhibition “The Right to Silence”:
“The Right to Silence?” addresses issues of criminal justice and consists of a survey and two parallel streams addressing different political and geographical contexts, focusing on Greece/Cyprus.
The curator’s text:
A number of contemporary compositions seem to deny the presence of the beholder in their arrangement nevertheless what primarily matters to the canon of art today is its dialogue with the beholder. Acknowledging the beholder’s presence and the “to-be-seenness” of the artworks has also been the decisive contribution to the ongoing visual discourse on modernism. But how can the limits of this canon be tested in relation to the broader society. What if the beholder remains hidden from the public unable to be in any kind of dialogue with the artwork. Facing the wall, in a concrete cell with no windows or sitting blindfolded in a tiny concrete cube in perfect silence, waiting for an interrogator. A constitutive element of the prison is silencing – the silencing of lives, often of justice, of suffering and political expression.
Mass incarceration has been discussed in terms of degrees of in/visibility but not so much in terms of the range of processes that reveal the in-between of representational languages that could be called in acoustic terms silence and in visual terms invisibility. Is silence connected to invisibility in a cause and effect relationship? The prison’s status as a silent and invisible space was challenged and is still being challenged today primarily by incarcerated artists who are working with communities most affected by prisons and policing so as to examine prison privatization and the politics and economics of the massive increase of the U.S. prisoner population since the 1970s. Prisoners, ex-prisoners, their families, social activists, academics, and professionals founded in the ‘70s a voice-magnifying attack on the prison’s own foundations that was called GIP (or the Prisons Information Group) and aimed to relay information about prisons between prisoners themselves, as well as from prisoners and the outside world. They lifted the veil that obscured their experiences from public view.
Featuring pieces by visual and performing artists the group exhibitions attempts to uncover the profound and complex sense of silence that characterizes the prison industrial complex so as to examine whether art and aesthetics can break the silence about crucial political issues such as mass incarceration and criminal justice reform, as well as corruption/abuse, transgender-juvenile rights and solitary confinement in prisons. The exhibition also addresses the relationship as well as the discrepancies between the current self-confinement and self-isolation conditions and actual incarceration by examining the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual tensions that humans have to endure while in isolation. As Mischa Twitchin notes ‘what might be the “echoes” of silence, in what social space or locations might that be pertinent (or, in the privilege of “privacy,” how might it be resisted)… and what is to be understood by “remote” in these circumstances, after all?” Acknowledging the impact of practices that encourage the wider public to empathize with prisoners through art or the ways that art can heal incarcerated people the exhibition will also draw on forms of representation that have the potential of pointing beyond themselves to the unseeable and the unsayable.
About the platform GREEECE IN USA:
Greece in USA is a non-profit organization with a global reach that promotes knowledge of contemporary and ancient Greek Culture while fostering international cultural cooperation, experimentation and social engagement. The organization’s extensive programming includes commissioned artists’ and curators’ projects, residencies, educational and ecological initiatives and the commitment to cultivating a sensible culture of innovation and thought leadership. We are dedicated to offering innovative and unique programs in education and the arts, all exploring the evolving diversity and richness of Greek and Cypriot cultures. The non-profit organization seeks to generate new thinking about the arts and promote cross-cultural dialogue through partnerships and new platforms of creation. The organization promotes international exchange of practice and knowledge in the arts – visual and sound art, dance, architecture, theatre – research on the methods used in curatorial and performing practices and investigation of points of intersection between the arts, science and the public sphere by means of interventions, collective actions, educational programs and publications.