Gold Circle Showcase | Aikaterini Gegisian, For a place in the sun

  • Marina Syrmakezi

For a place in the Sun, 2015 10 collages on paper

Where does the power of art lie? Is it the beauty of aesthetics and harmony? The value of functional design? The significance of recording the past and predicting the future? These are significant attributes but what is the common force that permeates all the above to the effect of influencing society?
Arguably the most appropriated and potent effect of art is in the power of symbolism and the way images, sculptures, music and theatre can transcend the boundaries of emotions and rational thought to shape opinions, feelings and ultimately actions. 
The power of symbolism has been exploited by those who seek to shape public opinion throughout history, using whichever means were at their disposal; from theatre and poetry in the ancient times, to music, painting and sculpture during the classical period and to photography and cinema in the present day. Until the proliferation of the Internet, art has served as  the ideal asynchronous way of communicating subtle messages and feelings to the masses, a resource that no authoritative state has left untapped.
Such was an attempt during the controversial period of the dictatorship in Greece, the period in which Aikaterini Gegisian’s sourced images were created by EOT, the Hellenic Tourist Organisation. This was an era steeped in controversy, and one dividing opinion to this day. Through totalitarian methods of censorship and manipulation, the regime sought to gloss over its malpractices by building a national identity. Art, of all kinds, was the prefect medium.  
The creation of a national identity served an important purpose that could produce simultaneous gains: Internationally, the projected image of the Greece as approachable, warm and relaxing destination could generate wealth thought the influx of tourists it would attract, while any domestic restlessness over matters of economy, freedom and progress could be appeased through the creation of a common image that everyone can align with. The Greek sun, this magnificent source of life that could never be depleted despite what hardship may lay ahead, became Greece’s national treasure. Something that can never be taken away and that every Greek holds dear. A fundamental sentiment that is difficult to overcome and is certainly present to this day, in another difficult period in the history of modern Greece. 
Gegisian cleverly manipulates these collages on paper by using the same censorship tactics to construct an abstracted sentence (Enchantment in our regional old Greece) that is a power play on the essence of the original message. The symbolic power of the images with the Sounio temple in the foreground and Aegean sea in the background, is deconstructed and almost compromised by isolating the sun as the magician’s trick that has just been uncovered. A single image to represent a nation. Brought into the foreground by the very practice that was otherwise used to censor at the time when the images were created.  ​ Gegisian’s work is subtle and her visual interventions minimal. The sourced images carry enough weight, only light strokes are needed to bring the potency of their symbolism to the surface. This is artfully achieved in this carefully balanced body of work.
All images: ©Aikaterini Gegisian
Words: Marina Syrmakezi


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