In her book Autobiography of Red, Anne Carson writes that ‘a healthy volcano is an exercise in the uses of pressure’. What if I try to use the volcano as a parable for speaking about mouths uttering words, screams or cries, mouths trying to capture the ineffable. What if a volcano becomes a parallelism for a mouth speaking out or remaining silent, making thoughts fathomable or fastening when experiencing a state of chaos, anxiety, sadness. Could the mouth then be an exercise in the uses of internal or external pressure? Could the healthy as an epithet appended on it, trace a way to stay with both its numbness and temporal paralyses, yet also with its overreactions, loudness and at times irrationality?

Natalie Yiaxi’s practice embodies these fluctuating qualities whilst legitimising their ambivalences. Her work is an exercise in the uses of pressure, often affiliated with the linguistic, the para-linguistic or the non-linguistic schemes formulated through or by the mouth. Both her object-based works
(from installative gestures to drawings and her writings, varying from lyrics accompanied by melodies or other fractured sounds to poems) operate as idiolects based on an uncanny orality. The rhythms of her practice follow the constant transmutations of the psychic and bodily experience. Yiaxi’s work manages through diverse media to visually, textually or vocaly represent the chasms and hiatuses, the hesitations and breaks, the lyricalities and sonic distractions of the a-syntactic morphologies embedded in mouth acts and through alternative vernaculars.

a slow

moving

homebody

living inside

the shell

of the home

and the shell

of the body

-just like

a giant

babushka.


Vernacular, a word etymologically arising from the Latin vernaculus, meaning domestic and/or native, does contextualise various forms manifested in Yiaxi’s gestures. Both the domestic and/or the native, notions with complex connotations regarding current and past and hopefully future discourses, feel like touching and being touched by her ways of becoming through the work, of staying with the pains of existence, of listening for the akwardnesses of getting lost. Each of her poems, or fragments of a longer, fractured narrative come from a diarist order but conclude to an auto-ethnographic statement, challenging the limits of identical politics. Through ‘exposing oneself to error and entering into a vivid relation to doubt’, quoting the words of Snejanka Mihaylova coming from her book Accoustic Thought, Yiaxi’s words turn into a form for dismantling the dominant archives that for long preserved the poetics of the emblematic, the pompous, the elegant. They conduct a performative state; they are promises, invitations for turning the wretched, the vulgar and the inglorious into methods for making life livable.

a hot shower

can cure

every

thing

except misery.



Yiaxi’s work uses the syntaxes of language along with what escapes them as a core pole for disrupting the canonical time and space. Her practice feels as a response to the world(s) surrounding her; it utilises what happens in between speech acts, in order to traverse the meanings of linearity, consistency, intelligibility. Through composing words or other micro-elements that only make sense (or intentionally endure their nonsensical being) when placed nearby, across or in proximity to one another, she sketches the complexities of personal and mutual historicities as well as the potentiality of reaching a futurality.

In her installation Homework, part of her solo show Solid Plans at Thkio Pallies in 2016, Yiaxi engages with variations of circular objects, almost non of which presents or represents an edge or a rough cut. Although the materiality of the pieces is solid, or claims to perform such a nature, both the shapes and the architectural positionality of the objects remain fluid, generating an ambience of a latent and cease-less circulation. Arising from her effort to transcribe linguistic, oral or written fragments into objects, Yiaxi engages with home works in the most literal sense. By exercising, consuming, protecting and concurrently exposing the fragility of the quotidian and its often overlooked thesis in life, Yiaxi’s installative enactments raises the questions: How to weight the one that lacks of gravity? How to take account of the innumerable? The installation is merging with the sound piece Oh Car Mobile Kingdom of Fleeting Thoughts through a wall dividing but also bringing the two pieces together. The accoustic track consists of words sounding like spells or oracles. Correspondingly, glitched whispers and whistles and lullabies uttered both in Greek and English, as well as recorded Christian chants, cries or screams or laughs expressing joy or desperation or both, operate as thematic elements of her receipt poetry:

always night

always ultra normal

everyday super

carefree original



Yiaxi’s practice serves as a close observation and documentation of the arbitrary. Surface level themes and trivial gestures often unnoticed, come in the centre of attention in order to show their affect in our ways of being, in order to train our methods of longing and belonging. The public graciously intertwines with the private, often ironically commenting on how motives of living life are parts of a chain of exchangeable conducts between internal and external narratives, idiosyncratic and socio-politically driven axes of functioning.

Accordingly and through her works displayed at MLNY collaborative show with the artist Maria Loizidou, curated by PARTY Contemporary in their space in 2018, Yiaxi inducts the audience to contend with the raptures and sorrows of the ordinary. The work operates again as an experience, as a trial; it aims to offer a translation of the linguistic processes through the materiality of the object. In a personal correspondence she writes: ‘I liked how relief the medium and relief the emotion could be connected through these abstract recorders of conversations, as an attempt for a ‘transmaterial’ translation’. Both her sculpture ‘Rêve Primitif I’ (2017) and the drawing ‘Rêve Primitif II’ (2018), practice five circular interconnected schemes: everyone, myself, inner discourse, language, the everyday. By separating these almost indistinguishable entities, when it comes to the ways of affecting livelihood, she creates an innuendo, a mockery game, a whimsy. In Composition As Explanation Gertrude Stein writes: ‘There is singularly nothing that makes a difference a difference in beginning and in the middle and in ending except that each generation has something different at which they are all looking. By this I mean so simply that anybody knows it that composition is the difference which makes each and all of them then different from other generations and this is what makes everything different otherwise they are all alike and everybody knows it because everybody says it’.

Yiaxi recomposes structures chronicly indifferent, aiming on making the unknown graspable, whilst at the same time abnegating its graspability. The works stay with an impossibility of understanding what comes first in the hierarchy of life. They suggest a fearless occupation of the reciprocal affiliations between selves and others, singulars and plurals, centres and peripheries. They become an endless aberration, a wandering around somatic, gnostic and instinctive stages. The five circles become symbolless symbols, allowing for an alteration of our imagination of the self and the world.

oh, and pain is a metastasis of anger



For her work ‘Untitled’ for Deste Prize in 2015, Yiaxi employs a series of notes, visual or textual to speak about identical archives, embodied othernesses, yet undocumented mental states. The work, a series of well sewn written and filmic elements working in the space distractions, function as a tool for depriving oxymora:



LIFE IS A MUSCLE

DEPTH ON A SURFACE

SOUL PROFESSIONALISM

EXERCISES IN ESTRANGEMENT

DON’T BE ANXIOUS BUT RATHER LIKE SUN AT MIDDAY

PREGNANT NOTHINGNESS

HALF SPOKEN HALF SANG

CEMETERY OF BRILLIANCE

SPIRITUAL CONDOMS

MOTHER, I DON’T BELONG TO YOU

LESSONS IN SOLITUDE


Among others, these phrases, slogans or titles give birth to a grounding song that takes the risk and copes with the consequences of quitting hope, tearing safety apart, shattering warmth. Yet, it is the same song that generates a space where we can be brave together when displacement is the only narrative, even when its power is felt temporarily. The song’s spasmodic tonality, spread in words and wounds and images and across multiple factual and fictional dimensions becomes a metaphor, a movement towards alternation that gives us -as audience, readers, listeners- the permission to go against the quagmire of the present –using the words of José Esteban Muñoz-, to construct an of the hook current. Through the resonances and the amplifications of the vocal and visual contents, Yiaxi’s work endorses a non-demonised behavioural thesis of experiencing life. How can the potential be essential, how an arrest can be treated softly, who’s pregnant to nothingness and whose lessons in solitude are being traced? The singularity of meaning in her work ‘Untitled’, is eliminated by the inkling of the high pitched voice or its complete absence; the higher truth is inflamed or immobilised by the cynicallity of the content.

In one of his recent interviews the artist and filmmaker Ramell Ross says: ‘Is there a mode of representation that allows for infinite possibility? Maybe it doesn’t exist, and the act of representation itself necessarily denies infinity’. Yiaxi’s work seeks to become with such a question when using characteristics of travesty and otherwordly feelings. The representations of her subjects do not allow for an established infinity, yet they do not deny it either. Her phrases operate as intercessors, as mediators and participants of a distorted or at least rearranged construction of reality. In this parallel world, desires, madness, curses and blessings co-exist and seemingly oppositional ways of treating love and exhaustion, faith and nihilism, vividness and inertia come together.

Natalie Yiaxi’s practice is an amalgamation of black summers, nice contractions and willful serendipities. Through establishing erasure as a praxis of archiving, and auscultation as the ultimate act of witnessing, her works serve as collections of memories and unrefined limits; they become a comment on sacred evidences and foreign selves in unmeasured times.

Ioanna Gerakidi 2019

︎︎︎

Transcending the Narrow

by Ioanna Gerakidi

written on the occasion of the show Hypersurfacing (2019), curated by
Marina Christodoulidou at NiMAC, the Nicosia Municipal Arts Center.

© NATALIE YIAXI 2011-2023 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED