Sia Kyriakakos: Dream collector

Greek-American artist Sia Kyriakakos was born in Baltimore in 1968. With parents hailing from Gytheion and Kalavryta, she first came to Greece when she was 6, went back to the United States at 16 and returned here at 32. What made you come back? As a child I had formed my own point of view of Greece based on my experiences with people in Peloponnesian villages. I came back on a Fulbright scholarship. I wanted to go back to the notion of romance and tenderness which I thought existed. Call me naive… In the end, I came across completely different things. Sounds like a cliche. I have this silly-American attitude in terms of excessive kindness. I believe in people. I learnt this in the States, where all Greeks treat each other like some kind of distant or close relative. In Greece, on the other hand, the prevailing sense is one of cunningness. In Greece you became known through your performance at the Fournos Theater, where you read coffee grounds. How much do you know about this? I picked things up as I went along. It seems, however, that my predictions were quite accurate. The performance was so successful that people still come round my place for coffee ground reading sessions. If a were a fortuneteller instead of an artist I would be rich by now. I heard you exercised your coffee ground reading skills on Sofia, queen of Spain. She inaugurated Madrid’s ARCO exhibition, with Greece as the honored country. She agreed to participate in the performance. It was fun acting as a fortuneteller to a queen. You were also a DESTE award finalist in 2001. Yes, I had made a replica of my grandmother’s house. It seems I’m always seeking to reconnect with my roots. Following the fortunetelling sessions, you began videotaping people narrating their dreams. How come? At the beginning I was videotaping myself describing my own dreams. Then I started traveling alone in different countries with a camera in hand, and, with the help of various friends acting as translators, I asked those passing by to tell me about their dreams. It was really interesting. Do you still do this? I always a dedicate a day to this practice whenever I visit a foreign country. So far, I have gathered 700 dreams from 25 countries. In 2003 you managed to make your dream come true by participating at the Venice Biennale. This was met with harsh criticism… Some people said: «Where did this Greek American come from? She has been living in Greece for only three years and she managed to make it to Venice.» It’s only human. You are currently presenting a new performance at the gallery. It sounds rather provocative. I’m lying on a bed and I invite viewers to come next to me and put their heads on the pillow. They then listen to other people’s fantasies. Next door is a confession area where each visitor choses to play the role of a priest or that of a sinner. I enjoy communicating with the public. Would you like me to record your fantasies? I’m not so sure. Don’t worry, I’ll alter your voice., 20 Aristophanous, Psyrri, tel 210.321.4994. The performance runs to November 4.