Stacking Stories . 2023

In-situ installation
concrete blocks, olive branches, tiles, pieces of marble, ceramic bricks, pieces of mosaic, handmade textiles, homemade soap, used church candles, candle scent, green soap bars, soap scent
230 x 230 x 17 cm

part of the group show Eleonas ’23 – Chthonian and Anthropocene
curated by Dimitris Trikas

The initial idea for this work was born from the photographic material by Mania Benisi, which accompanied the invitation to participate in the exhibition. A cross-sectional photograph of an archaeological excavation revealing the levels of different periods of life stacked by time, created associations with the 'yukos' that women in many parts of Greece used to make by stacking their dowry of woven textiles. My piece Alteration in 2021 was based on this female practice.

This I tried to do, symbolically, by creating the Stacking Stories installation on the spot inside the container I was provided; starting with the appropriation of the space through a ritual process of manual cleaning with water and traditional green soap that filled the space with its characteristic aroma.
The project was developed in situ, over 5 days of improvising and letting the original idea adapt to the specific space. The result is reminiscent of the ‘xerolithies’, rather masculine constructions, found in many parts of Greece. A plot full of stones would become a cultivated field as the stones were slowly stacked on drystone walls that leveled the field and protected the soil from winter rains.
Here the concrete blocks, products of the area and symbols of building development, are combined with used church candles, which already have a wish in them and the scent of the beeswax that made them, with pieces of marble, old ceramic bricks, tiles, pieces of mosaic, tiles, olive branches, hand-woven textiles, homemade soap, and green soap bars. This is how the 'manly' and 'womanly' stacks were united into one.

After reading about the multi-layered history of the area of Eleonas I wanted to include materials in the new installation that refer to this history such as, olive branches, soaps, concrete blocks, tiles, church candles, making a visual reference to the products and culture created in this area and as the audience commented ‘it is the hope of these materials that survive no matter what, because they have meaning for all of us'. I felt that this historically and socially charged environment, Eleonas, which is the interesting but complex theme of the exhibition, needs a 're-ordening', a 'tidying up'.

My sincere thanks to Angeliki Douveri and Wim Oudshoorn for the excellent collaboration.
With the kind support of Papoutsanis S.V.E. and the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary of Faneromeni, Cholargos.