IRENE POULIASSI

 

Ritalin Shots

7 November until 7 December 2019

Curator Will Coups

 

In 2016, Marios Psaras released the book The Queer Greek Weird Wave, exploring how Greek cinema was altered by the national crisis and how the politics of a nation can be critiqued by a queer-eye. In his description of the text, Psaras writes ‘Cinema might not be able to help heal a broken nation but it can definitely help revisit a nation’s past, reframe its present and re-imagine its future’. This statement exemplifies not only cinemas but the wider spectrum of the arts’ ability to assess and inform a situation in a subversive manner, providing a personal insight to the state of a cultural social unconscious.

In this exhibition, Pouliassi reaches into her own experiences to understand how her personal traumatic events are influenced by dystopian instability. Key icons draw us through her works, repeating in various images until we understand their significance on all levels. Crosses, knives and guns frequent Pouliassi’s pieces, leaving us unsure whether they are reminders of past events or a premonition of what may come. Paired with this, more delicate elements such as coats, jeans and shoes. These items bring contrast to the more violent aspects of the exhibition positioning themselves as domestic and every day. Relatable to us, the objects provide an entry point into the works, a sense of the familiar that allows us to become a part of them.

The human is central in how Pouliassi expresses her thoughts. On closer inspection of the works, carefully incorporated hair and teeth can be found layered into her paintings and plaited into stilettos. These remnants of humanity are not overtly associated with death alone but become a symbol of her fetishism of the macabre. Juxtaposed with the feeling of the past that these elements signify, Pouliassi offers a visceral human connection to the present. Found objects, sex toys and media tropes frequent the gallery space, serving as tokens of our time and locating the works within the millennial epoch.

There is an air of revolution to the exhibition. Pouliassi appears to be preparing a reactionary wave against her trauma and that of her nation’s. Her large paintings emblazoned with weapons and crosses evoke flag designs. The slogans written upon them act as mottos for how she sees the current climate, a satirical call to arms. Call 911, No bullets left, Missing. There is a want to find a way to escape the distress signals that Pouliassi confronts us with, searching for the proposed future that we hope she may see. Occasions throughout the exhibition allow us to glimpse at what could be, but Pouliassi has the ability to keep us confined in her way of thinking. We become a collective with her, riding the waves of momentary utopia then being brought back into her constructed dystopian home.

 

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