Shades of gray and dividing lines in places of conflict

The gray zones in our lives – those ambiguous areas that divide and create uncertainties in the political, social or personal realms – is the underlying theme in «Gray,» a group exhibition that is being held in two venues, is curated by Maria Marangou and produced by the Rethymnon Center of Contemporary Art. «Cut – 7 Dividing Lines,» a project by artist Danae Stratou, is on show at the Zoumboulakis Gallery, and works by Yioula Hatzigeorgiou, Andreas Savvas and Socratis Fatouros are being displayed at the House of Cyprus. The political content in the exhibition is one of its strongest aspects. It defines the work of both Stratou and Savvas. For her project, Stratou picked out and traveled to seven politically troubled areas in the world, which wars and socioeconomic or political tensions have divided. These «seven open wounds» – as the artist describes these areas – are the Green Line in divided Cyprus, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, a contested area between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the West Bank, the Line of Control in Kashmir and the border between Mexico and the USA. Stratou tried to get an insider’s point of view. She spent days traveling in each area, talking to the locals and taking a total of some 15,000 photographs. She edited her material down to 14 images (a pair for each region) which she arranged in an art installation that resembles a path set between two «walls» of photographs that depict either side of each region. A short text for each of the seven regions is written along this «gray-zone» path thus enabling the viewer to better understand the content of the images. Walled in between an array of images and along a path that has no escape, the viewer is likely to feel a lurking sense of uneasiness and constraint. Placed in an emotional gray zone, the viewer feels some of the tension and unresolved conflict that calibrates people’s lives across the globe. In his work, Andreas Savvas contrasts the superpower of the USA with the position that Cyprus, his own country, holds in worldwide politics. The threads that Savvas has used to construct a huge, room-sized Cypriot flag suggest precariousness and instability. In a video, the image of the American flag takes the geographical shape of Cyprus and then is transformed into the Cypriot flag. The process is repeated the other way around. Two videos and an installation by Yioula Hatzigeorgiou locate the gray-zone tension in the personal. In one of the videos, a face submerged under water moves upward, gasping for some air, and falls back again into the water. It is a recurring movement with no clear beginning or end. There is an ambivalence split between a sense of entrapment on the one hand and escape on the other. Socratis Fatouros has painted a large, two-sided undulating wooden surface which brings to mind walls that divide and segregate. It is a visually commanding work that may express a willingness for bringing two opposing sides to an understanding. At the Zoumboulakis Galleries (20 Kolonaki Square, 210.360.8278) to Saturday and at the House of Cyprus (10 Irakleitou, 210.364.1217) to Friday.