Thank You (ΕΥΧΑΡΙΣΤΩ) , 2012
06/01/2015
The Meeting Point, 2013
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I wish your wish, 2013

Ten women are invited by the artist in her studio in order to sew together 1.400 real flowers, creating a cover for a hotel’s bed.

When the cover is ready, it is taken to room 504 of St. George Lycabettus Hotel, where it is laid down on the bed like a garden that is resting, and the space is transformed into an “olfactory bomb”.

The artist, in a 4-hour performance with the use of scissors, begins to cut off each flower offering them open-handedly to each viewer.

The work is created by a collective offering and is concluded in the same fashion when all the flowers have been offered to the viewers and the bed cover has dissolved. The primary aim of its creation is to be given away, to be distributed to the viewers’ hands, and each flower can then take its own course.

All viewers leave the room with a flower that has been offered to them; a portion of the work that it was given to each one; a portion that, as a result of a dismantled body, was entrusted to each one by the artist.

Greek

Δέκα γυναίκες καλούνται από την καλλιτέχνιδα στο εργαστήριό της, προκειμένου να ράψουν 1.400 αληθινά λουλούδια μεταξύ τους, δημιουργώντας ένα κάλυμμα για το κρεβάτι ενός ξενοδοχείου. Όταν το κάλυμμα είναι έτοιμο, μεταφέρεται στο δωμάτιο 504 του St.George Lycabettus Hotel όπου αφήνεται στο κρεβάτι σαν ένας κήπος που αναπαύεται κι ο χώρος μεταμορφώνεται σε μια «οσφρητική βόμβα». Η καλλιτέχνιδα σε μια δράση διάρκειας 4 ωρών, αρχίζει να κόβει μ’ ένα ψαλίδι κάθε ένα λουλούδι και να το προσφέρει γενναιόδωρα σε κάθε θεατή. Το έργο δημιουργείται από μια ομαδική προσφορά και τελειώνει με τον ίδιο τρόπο όταν όλα τα λουλούδια έχουν προσφερθεί στον κόσμο και το κάλυμμα έχει εξαφανιστεί. Πρωταρχικός σκοπός της δημιουργίας του είναι να χαριστεί, να μοιραστεί στα χέρια των θεατών και το κάθε λουλούδι να ξεκινήσει την πορεία του. Κάθε θεατής αποχωρεί απ’ το δωμάτιο μ’ ένα λουλούδι που του προσφέρθηκε, μ’ ένα κομμάτι του έργου που του χαρίστηκε, μ’ ένα κομμάτι που σαν σώμα η καλλιτέχνιδα του εμπιστεύεται.

Charis Kanellopoulou

The flowers he gathered bloomed their brief bright hour, Then rained their petals in a silent shower Richard (1828-1879)

The flower as a symbol of fragility and the ephemeral, but also one which contains the potential for rebirth and creation, is the material with which Maria Tsagari creates a visual environment which fulfils and discloses desires, wishes and gratitude. Continuing in the conceptual concept of her earlier ephemeral installations made of ash, she presents again a body of work realised through an intensely manual process. In this way she gets an experience based on concentration and inner quest, invested with perseverance and systematic work and demanding the unwavering concentration of body and soul until the final outcome has emerged.

The brief life of the fragile material in Tsagari’s installation underscores the importance she ascribes to the experiential expressiveness of the process; the work ‘lives’ for as long as it can go on, and is open to accepting its inevitable withering. During their finite life, the cut flowers fill the room with their colour and scent, at the same time conveying coded messages and expressing what cannot be said in words. As she ‘weaves’ the flowery fabric of her work in a peculiar ritual of offering, Tsagari allows it to be imbibed by the metaphorical notions—virtues and weaknesses—which people themselves have ascribed to them. The resulting veil of flowers carries vows, wishes and offerings, and the whole environment alludes to the sphere of faith, the expression of gratitude and the manifestation of worship.

At a later time, as the artist dismantles the composition and the remaining flowers are left to wilt away, the realisation of the work’s transient, ephemeral nature focuses the viewer’s attention even more on the direct, experiential contact with things as they perceive it through the senses rather than know it. While the work is gradually ‘disembodied’, smell assumes the dominant role and provides a different, pure and primordial sense of things, abolishing all distinctions between viewer and object, self and other, internal and external.

In a visual environment already mapped through memory, thought and the beneficial expression of emotion, the liberation of scent seems to lead to another form of ‘synaesthesia’, with smell being able to recall anew some common memories and emotional experiences in the conscious and the unconscious, this time as even more potent metaphor. It is the work’s transient life and the minimal trace it leaves behind—from the vibrant ‘flesh’ of the flower to the delicate scent which reminds us of the gesture of its offering—that call upon us to appreciate the moment and be fully present while experiencing the work, with heightened senses and emotions, surrendering to the passage of time and honouring the way in which tangible experience turns into memory.

Charis Kanelopoulou