CULTURE

Athena Tacha’s private and public explorations

THESSALONIKI – In the USA, Athena Tacha is well-known in the field of environmental public sculpture, yet her multifaceted creativity – largely unknown to Greek audiences – ranges from environmental site-specific sculpture to conceptual art. With her view that art should serve a functional purpose, in the last 40 years Tacha has been working on public space commissions, designing squares and fountains from Florida to Alaska on the one hand, while studying the development of mankind and nature on the other. «Athena Tacha: From the Public to the Private» is a retrospective exhibition that strikes a balance between Tacha’s public and private works has now been organized by the State Museum of Contemporary Art, the Contemporary Art Center of Thessaloniki (CACT), the J.F. Costopoulos Foundation and the Larissa Municipal Art Gallery – G.I. Katsigras Museum. The show, which opens this Saturday, reveals the multifaceted oeuvre of the 70-year-old Greek-American artist. «Greece’s nature, its mountains and sea have always been my source of inspiration; they still are. As I grow older, I’m increasingly detecting influences from my native city, Larissa, in my works,» Tacha told Kathimerini. The more than 100 works going on display at CACT’s Warehouse B1, in the city’s port complex, will reveal the artist’s creative path as a sculptor of urban space, as well as her inner explorations through conceptual projects developed in series, with the body and nature serving as the research field. «Whether designing parks or going in search of the universe’s rhythm, the artist operates as a research scientist,» noted CACT director Syrago Tsiara, who curated the exhibition in tandem with Katerina Koskina, the president of the State Museum of Contemporary Art’s board of directors. The wealth of Tacha’s public space projects are documented through large-scale photographic reproductions, models and designs stemming from 45 architectural-sculpture landscape configurations (including squares, recreation areas and fountains) carried out in various places, including Florida, Ohio, Arizona, Alaska, Pennsylvania and New York, beginning in the 1970s. The dimension of the artist’s conceptual work is seen in her autobiographical portraits: «36 Years of Aging,» for instance, is a work-in-progress project set to continue throughout her life. By photographing herself every year and developing a collage of visual material, Tacha traces her biological evolution as time goes by. «I started observing myself at the age of 35 and in order to fight off the fear of growing old, which invariably surrounds us, I turned myself into a guinea pig, while unearthing the beauty of mature age along the way,» she said. Works with a feminist slant include a series of sculpted garment-shields. In this case, the body is clad in fragile natural raw materials, reflecting the efforts made by women to arm and protect their bodies from internal or external aggression. «Athena Tacha: From the Public to the Private» opens this Saturday at Warehouse B1 and runs to April 11.