Capturing a sense of threat in art

As themes related to the world’s political situation and social issues become prevalent in contemporary art, an art exhibition has captured the mood by asking 15 Greek artists to visualize the concept of threat. Curated by art historian and curator at the National Gallery in Athens Lina Tsikouta, «What is Threat Like?» addresses a notion we usually associate with war and impending disaster and extends it to encompass the kind of psychological threat that arises from inner fear and unconscious, existential anguish. Organized by the Cultural Center of the Municipality of Trikala in Thessaly – on an initiative by Mayor of Trikala Michalis Tamilos – and the Batayanni Gallery in Athens, the exhibition is being held at one of the city’s monuments, the Cursum (or Koursoum) Mosque. The mosque was built in the mid-16th century by the renowned master craftsman Sinan pasha (1490-1588), known for having designed numerous buildings in Constantinople, Hadrianople (now Edirne) and his hometown in Cappodocia, Caesarea. By holding the exhibition on the mosque’s premises, the curator also intends to make indirect reference to how the contemporary use of cultural monuments threatens their preservation and alters their original function. Of all the artists participating in the exhibition, Dimitris Zouroudis is probably the one that has consistently addressed political issues in his work, particularly the relationship and the ideological differences between the Muslim Eastern and the Christian Western worlds. His mixed-media work shown at the exhibition depicts an Arabic prayer taken from the Koran on which which the artist has superimposed other images, some referring to war in the Middle East. A photograph of a blazing flame by artist Fotini Karyotaki suggests the threat of ecological disaster as well as war. One of the most engaging works is a floor installation by Ioula Hadzigeorgiou, an assembly of dark, scarecrow-like, abstract images painted on cement slabs. The personal and the political merge in a one-minute video by Cypriot-born artist Andreas Savvas. Inspired by the Cypriot rejection of the Annan plan, the work refers to the political situation in Cyprus through the psychological state of a young man. A lightweight, sharply angular, geometric construction by Vivetta Christouli makes one of the exhibition’s most implicit references to threat. Seen in the context of the exhibition, the construction brings to mind obstruction, danger and imprisonment. But it can also be viewed quite differently, as an abstract form. Artist Loukia Alavanou offers an even more generalized interpretation of what constitutes a threat. Her video, which shows a mother nursing her infant, is concerned with human relationships and the possibly dangerous influence that a parent can exert over their child. Other participants in the exhibition are artists Vassilis Vassilakakis, Dimitris Tzamouranis, Angelos Skourtis, Babis Venetopoulos, Christos Harisis, Costas Tsolis, Giorgos Divaris and Vangelis Gokas. Cursum Mosque, Trikala, to Saturday.