Dreams take shape in two artists’ visual metaphor

The Greek pavilion at this year’s forthcoming Venice Biennale is likely to differ significantly from former Greek art delegations to what is Venice’s most important contemporary visual arts event. Instead of dividing the space up to show separate works by different artists, usually from three generations – which has been the norm in recent years – the Greek pavilion will this time showcase a single work jointly made by two artists. Marina Fokidi, the curator and commissioner for the Greek presence at the Biennale, came up with the idea, while the artists who worked together are Athanassia Kyriakakou and Dimitris Rotsios, a young team of people of roughly similar age (somewhere in their mid-30s), something which again differs from the more usual focus on the established names. «Intron,» which is what the work is called, is a 120-square-meter, enclosed-space installation (it basically takes up the entire pavilion) structured on different levels and meant to be entered and walked through. Designed both as a sculpted space that resembles the flow of a wave and a three-dimensional, concrete object based on the shape of a triangle, «Intron» is also an itinerary through a series of video projections that show people from around the world recounting their dreams. It is therefore meant as a visual metaphor for what it feels like when we dream at night. At the same time, it is a loose interpretation of the general theme for the upcoming Biennale, which its director for this year, Francesco Bonami, has defined as «Dreams and Conflicts, the Dictatorship of the Viewer.» Rotsios, an architect who has worked extensively with digital technology and virtual space, is more responsible for designing the space, whereas Kyriakakou is the artist who made «Stolen Dreams,» the videos shown inside «Intron.» Roles have not been strictly defined, however, and both artists have developed their work in a joint collaboration. In fact, one of the installation’s interesting aspects is that it brings together the work of two artists who use different styles. Rotsios leans more toward technology and seems to favor futuristic, perfectly designed spaces, whereas Kyriakakou often looks into tradition for her inspiration. A Greek-American artist who moved to Greece only a few years ago, Kyriakakou has become better known for frequently recalling traditional aspects of everyday Greek life (her performance of the preparation of Greek coffee is an example), sometimes through a nostalgic perspective. «Intron» brings those two seemingly contrasting perspectives together. Through the universal language and experience of dreams, it suggests that life is about unity rather than divisions. And that tradition or technology, reality or dreams are all different means to a single end, which is learning to grasp the complexity of life as fully as possible. In an event such as the Venice Biennale, which attracts a diversified, international public, the Greek installation’s unifying point of view is sure to strike a chord.