Hello and Welcome to the Show. I am aware that you are the reader and I am the writer but, just for now, I suggest diverging from this binary positioning. Moving towards finding our common ground, we are both individuals who have stood before these artworks, subjects before objects filling that space between ourselves and their presence with our own experiences, references, imaginations, and desires. These brief notes contain diaristic POV fillers, feelings, musings, and anecdotal stories that might complement your experience. They come in titled, connected, but at the same time somewhat autonomous paragraphs, to easily pick out the ones that catch your eye.

Through the Ubiquitous Screen. I have seen them as infants, toddlers, and teenagers. When he asked me to write something on their behalf I asked him to send me recent photos of them on WhatsApp. I wanted to have them on my screen, to be able to pinch them big and look at them in the way we experience most things these days.

A Plan of Action. I needed to look at them with fresh eyes since I have known them for so long. I decided to note down the first thing I would think of after that first glimpse on the screen. I love spontaneous responses. They are proof that our processors are fast; that we retain details; that we possess an internal, efficient network of information layering. That nothing goes to waste; every bit of experience, every fragment of information, gets lodged where it should and it becomes potent when it must. Isn’t that the stuff of hope?

Hunk of Skin. The first flash of thought once I see them again. I have read this phrase elsewhere I did not concoct it. Hunk of Skin is a poetry collection by Pablo Picasso, written almost entirely on the 9th of January, 1959. It is a short read, obscure, and bustling with vivid, disjointed, surrealist images. Yet, I have to admit that the thing setting in motion this reflex recollection is not the content of these poems but the image contained in their title: through the screen, I cannot help reading these works as the remnants or leftovers of something, as hunks of skin hanging on the wall. I think about how those poems are painterly and how these paintings are sculptural; the poems of a painter, the paintings of a sculptor. The blurb on the back cover of the book reads:

A note to the original Spanish edition speaks of Trozo De Piel [hunk of skin] as expressing ‘Picasso’s nostalgia for his boyhood in Malaga: all his memories of the land where he was born, suddenly arisen…’.

Memories. These artworks are parerga that gradually ended up taking the stage, hence, the focus has not always been on them. As ideas in progress, they went through various stages of evolution. For instance, I recall that at some point they briefly carried bottles of water and oranges. One day, out of the blue, their weights disappeared, and a plastic plug appeared on each, like an artificial belly button. I remember protesting Why did you change them again? They were just fine! He answered something along the lines of They needed something, by which he probably meant that he was planning to relentlessly strip them down to their absolute essentials.

Face to Face Again. Unlike hunks of skin, these pieces are neither dead yet, nor desensitized; on the contrary, they are suggestive of movement, of transformative energy.

[on the surface of the screen  
lurks the danger of getting trapped in denotation]


The afternoon light in his studio is sweet, like rum and raisin ice cream, fragments of the syrupy sky come in through the windows. We briefly discuss the ideal distance between each pair. The room is silent; I have always considered the presence of silence to be a sign of completion.

[Peter Greenaway, the filmmaker painting with film
once said that works of art are never finished,
just stopped and I believe that this statement too, is true]


Companions. Now each canvas is accompanied by a polyurethane resin cast object adjusting to its irregular shape, and curves. A giant foot here, an abstract face there, a torso, a bosom; none of them entirely human, maybe parts of unimaginable entities? Am I imagining body parts?  He did not respond to my question, but he also did not deny this remark -whereas he usually expresses his noes fervently. These companions act as anchors re-establishing the canvases as objects in their own right, weaving a new narrative for them, giving them a new life that extends beyond their functional past and their participation in the making of other objects. He shows me the smooth indentations he carved on each companion. I don’t know if I should be encouraging you to do this, but you should touch them; they are smooth, inducing the calming effect of a worry stone.

Poetic Stoppage. Maybe I finally understand why they have acquired plastic belly buttons; I am no longer perplexed by their presence, I actually enjoy and appreciate them now. I think of them as a bold gesture of camouflage. A device to shift the focus away from romantic perceptions about making, and to buffer the poetic dimension of this body of work by introducing an illusory serialization.

The Kids Gathered Around the Column. They seem to be comfortable, domestic, familiar, spongy, flexible parts of the most diabolical piece of furniture in the history of furniture; the sofa. Among them a standing and a reclining canvas-companion, who, in escaping the surface of the wall, have set in motion the creation of a whole new set of companions, this time cast in aluminium.

What Came First the Chicken or the Egg? The canvases or the plaster pieces? And what does first really mean in this case? The one group is the by-product of the other; each group views the other as its by-product. Maybe they are essentially antagonistic, at least this is what their grouping and their positioning in the space tell me.

Everybody and Everything Deserves a (Good) Name. Picasso’s poems were untitled. He read them to his friend, novelist and poet, Camilo José Cela on June 13, 1960, and asked him to baptize them. Coincidentally, today’s the 13th of June 61 years later, and I am writing this text, realizing that I don’t know if these works have a name yet. I believe I would be a terrible godmother to real children, but perhaps ideal for artworks? So, Phanos, how about: “Now Dear Eyes, Dear Eyes, a Split”? It’s a line from something I am writing at the moment, I will send it to you when it’s done!
 
nicosia 13.06.2021

back

Now Dear Eyes,
Dear Eyes
a Split

written by Natalie Yiaxi on the occasion of the show of Phanos Kyriacou Now Dear Eyes, Dear Eyes a Split (2021), Eins Gallery, Limassol.




Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror                                    
Just keep going                                            
No feeling is final.

-Rainer Maria Rilke

Notes, screenshots, and ideas fermenting; my desktop has always been a place where textual fragments socialize, increasingly so, these days. While being indecisive about how to begin writing this text -maybe because suddenly the work and the gallery text collide- I discover a screenshot on my desktop. I snatched it while watching the film Jojo Rabbit. It contains a stanza from a poem by Rilke that feels timely and relevant. I type it down. The intro has just written itself, and now I can start talking about what you just saw or what you are about to see.

Hyperflâneur in this video version appropriates Google maps screenshots I collected between 2017 and 2019 while working on Hyperflâneur, the hefty, 3-tome bookwork. Both versions track a personal journey that takes the form of a digital dérive through my smartphone. Drifting in every country, dependent area, and all the disputed territories of the Blue Marble, I captured around 3,500 screenshots, unknowingly caught by the 360˚cameras of Google Maps cars or knowingly uploaded by google users. This project never had the intention to exhaust the world, to become a detailed map that precedes the territory;

it rather sought to position the subject in the world and capture the multifaceted nature of now. For this subject, speaking to you here, experiencing what a random street -and in extent everyday life- might look like across the world has been a way of understanding their privilege, witnessing environmental destruction, and tracing the routes of colonialism, while also being moved by sublime nature. The distortion present in these images -fragments of hands, feet blending with the background, disjoined bodies, and landscapes- soon lost its novelty and began acting as a metaphor for how we experience reality.

During the long hours of vigilant hyperflâneuring, emotions and moods shifted constantly. Sometimes my disbelief while facing the screen related to excitement and surprise, but more often to sadness and disappointment. Not being immune to the tediousness of the task, I would often find myself stuck in places that felt all too familiar to experience with fresh eyes. While editing the video, I realized that transposing the project to a new medium allowed me to address these mood shifts through the audio channel. I began constructing a soundtrack by sourcing unfinished sound projects I dug out of long-forgotten subfolders of folders. I also ‘borrowed’ music from finished sound pieces Sextilis and Reveries for Trees and Shrubs and used tracks from the LP Posh Taro (2014) and the bookwork/CD album What is to be Sung? Answers to the Burning Question by Charly Barely (2012).




Initially, Massive Hangover was playing on repeat over the video credits. In the end, I decided to single it out and present it on its own as a conclusion since I feel that we have finally reached that awkward, painful awakening. How will this hangover be remedied -what needs to get rehydrated and how- remains to be seen.

Hyperflâneur 


written by Natalie Yiaxi on the occasion of participating in the online show Together Apart/ Going New Places (2020) curated by Marina Hadjilouka 





In this case [this particular situation; this occurrence; this container; this space] you shall encounter a group of entities whose life journey begins in early 2012. Not being constrained by timeframes, deadlines or any form of anxiety, they were somewhat finished by 2015, un-clingfilmed and dusted in 2016, polished, arranged and rearranged in 2017.

They are the outcome of a growing interest in the different methods of restoration and display-mechanisms encountered in museums. These practices become visible to the museum visitor only when the natural rhythm of the museum cabinet is interrupted. This is when the card reading

THIS CASE IS IN PROCESS OF ARRANGEMENT

appears, or when we get to observe the unique, tailor-made structure designed to carry the precious artefacts. The interest in these practices and ‘supporting acts’ strays away from the realms of ‘Archaeology’ and engages through and through with the potentiality of these ‘invisible’ structures for sculpture.

This interest resonates with something else so different, yet so similar, Kyriacou has been documenting for years, since these professional ways of mending echo the less methodical tactics of ‘street-smart mending’. This could perhaps be a name for universal DIY restoration methods, abundant in the urban and rural landscape, a name tag for the diverse language of practical, visible gestures whose sole aim is to resurrect a thing’s or a situation’s functionality quickly and efficiently.

The distillation of these observations takes the form of a ‘rupture-sculpture’.

Rupture here implies a disturbance in the ‘how-things-are-usually-done’ flow, for these sculptures cannot be separated from their display bodies; the display mechanism itself is sculpture; the guest is an extension of the host and vice-versa. There’s also another rupture in play, one that turns the idea of restoration on its head: there is a general understanding that to restore is to begin from a whole missing a part.

Here, what has been fabricated both literally and metaphorically, through a series of unimaginable extensions, expansions and protrusions, always had as its starting point a single fragment. These terracotta fragments/initiators are mostly accidental findings collected through the years, from various pottery workshops and random places. They have been placed and arranged on bodies made out of construction plaster in synergy with polyester resin and polyurethane foam. Parts were also engineered in teflon, wood, steel, bronze, aluminium and zamak.

“I think of them as a mothership and so should you too.”

During these years of patience, silence and growth, these sculptures have also given birth to a number of ideas, sounds, objects, words, structures, frustrations, walks, dust, emotions, friendships, injuries, tools and travels.

back

This Case is in the Process of
Arrangement

co-written by Natalie Yiaxi and Phanos Kyriacou on the occasion of Phanos Kyriacou show This Case is in the Process of Arrangement (2017) at Thkio Ppalies
in Nicosia.


I am no one, or to be precise, no one in particular. But being the only other creature in the world that shared a life with them, I know them in the way that one knows a brother, a sister or a parent; through that intimate sharing of a version of reality that is never devoid of blind spots, misconceptions and differences. Often, those related by blood, and not by choice, don’t speak the same language, yet, I am instinctively and intuitively aware of theirs.

In reality, it is neither by instinct nor by intuition that this awareness came about, but through a growing database of countless everyday details and observations; by watching them expand, shift, move, peel and reach self-realization; by knowing what came before them as well as where they come from - not only geographically or ethnographically but also conceptually, intellectually and emotionally.
I am aware of the bittersweet relationships they embody and how they are the product of negotiation. In return, their product is a set of solid friendships that flourished between him and a handful of elderly craftsmen, most of whom were the last of their lineage. In countless occasions these objects were the pretext for sharing all sorts of things; stories, histories, skills, meals, desires. They have been marked by life and by the loss of life, I can tell you that.

Not all of them have travelled all the way across the Atlantic, so what you are looking at is a distillation of an already rigorous distillation. However, they all do come from the same luminous studio on the second floor of an otherwise lifeless warehouse, some 5455 miles away. In that room I would always sense a mix of mysterious improbabilities which in the past I chose to ignore, however, in order to speak on behalf of these objects here and now, I will finally have to face them. For instance, I always felt that they have the ability to cleanse the energy of the room or cool down the temperature and dim the noises coming in from the numerous windows surrounding the studio.

What if these powers emanate from their earthly materials? Mountain rocks; fragments of terracotta; metals in a state of coolness. While trying to verbalize this feeling of calmness
I sense around them I scribble down: ‘Noise mutates into white noise, focus shifts inwards... Something happened before now and now everything is cooling down’.

Before them I feel the total freedom from geography or historical time. Are they from the past, the present, the future, or are they fragments of an interstellar archaeology? In a way they  manage to ‘purify’ from the greatest contaminant of all; one’s expectations.

Of course, I cannot ignore the possibility that these impressions are mere mental projections of the fact that I am aware that these are pure objects themselves; each and every one of these clusters has been gradually stripped down to its most essential elements. Try to lift an object from the ‘Fugue of Founds’ or the mountain rock from ‘Frame Work’ and both structures will immediately collapse.
This manufactured balance/counterbalance acts as a binding agent unifying the different elements of each cluster, while also instilling movement in them... and if this counterbalance is the choreography, then the metal structures must be the body of the choreographer.

In some, the body is inscribed and mediated but never overstated. In ‘Monoblock Measurements’, the average human body as envisioned by the ‘universal’ chair is communicated through fragments cast in lead -fragments of monoblock chairs most probably crushed by bodies not average enough. The weight of lead makes them look like oddly shaped humanoid limbs and before them one can catch a glimpse of the future archaeological museum and snippets from the kind of stories we shall one day be telling ourselves about ourselves. In Guide Lines, the camera zooms in on the hand of the craftsman caught in the act of making. But what is it making? A universe of things, derivatives of everyday items, since this is a collection of guides created by shaping rods of Bronze on various objects and forms. Now these abstractions act as propositions and tools for making possible, yet, possibly useless objects.

Is their subtle sense of humor cooling down the room temperature?          
Looking at the serendipitous teaming of  a pile of stones and a terracotta pot wittingly called ‘Stone Ware’ or the pun-sculptures ‘Frame Work’ and ‘Guide Lines’, one unconsciously smiles but also realizes that words here are treated as objects.

Going back to ‘Stone Ware’, which came first; the stones or the pot? Was the pot chosen because it could accommodate the stones or where the specific stones chosen because they could fit the holes? This interdependence and unity between forms is a recurring theme that is perhaps more obvious in the cases where there is a ‘found’ and a ‘made’. For example, in ‘Fugue of Founds’ and the various Complementary Forms, the fragment is being extended by first becoming a guideline for a complementary form, which is subsequently rendered in a heavier material. The incompatible materials highlight the relationship and interdependence between the two otherwise compatible forms that now appear as one.

The found in ‘Daily Life’ is reimagined, completed, doubled and equally made. And so, it  disappears each time it faces a possibility of itself.  

back

Those in Daily Life

written by Natalie Yiaxi on the occasion of the show Daily Life (2015) by Phanos Kyriacou at Maccarone gallery, New York
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

back

Transcending
 the Narrow

by Ioanna Gerakidi

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

©natalie yiaxi 2011-2022 all rights reserved