|The art of Maria Klonaris
& Katerina Thomadaki intermixes both careful consideration of the image
technologies, and intensive exploration of some of the most profound aspects
of the imaginary. Since they moved to Paris in 1975, these two artists
of Greek origin have been working on the interplay of the mythological
and mystical roots of the Mediterranean World with the technical, intellectual
and artistic contributions of Western Europe.
In their multi-media works, myths and archetypes
resurge newly interpreted. At the same time, these powerfully evocative
figures transgress the media used and disturb our convictions. Rather than
merely mixing different cultures, this hybrid art is concerned with a true
philosophical reflection, which deeply touches the unconscious of contemporary
In May 1992, Maria Klonaris & Katerina Thomadaki
presented an installation in London which was both their first such event
in Britain and one of their major projects. Night
Show for Angel , situated
in the Hornsey Road Baths in Islington, comprised a series of multi-media
environments, that engaged the visitor in a long walk through the building.
This experience was of a rare quality. Not only was
the work rich in visual and aural delights, but it was also a total transformation
of the given space, such as to arouse the feeling of being in another dimension,
and of living a sort of epic journey or initiation rite. The only requirement
was a boundless receptivity to poetry.
The Angel is the third great archetypal figure on
which Klonaris & Thomadaki intensively work. The Angel Cycle (started
in 1985), of which this installation is part, follows
The Cycle of the
Hermaphrodites (1982-85) and TheCycle of the Unheimlich (1979-81,
about the feminine archetype of the Moon Goddess); these mythical bodies
of sexuality were nevertheless preceded by an exploration of the artists’
own identities in The Body Tetralogy (1976-79).
All these creations investigate the dialectic between
the Self and the Other. In their complex relationships, the Other is often
defined as the secret aspect of the Self which resists, contradicts, subverts
the acknowledged identity. The body is fundamental in this process. It
is the basis of self-definition and experience. The artists first instigated
an avant-garde Theatre of the Body in Athens in the 1970s, then were related
to the French Body Art, remarkable as it was in Paris at the time, and
initiated the important experimental cinema movement in France (between
about 1976 and 1985), known as ‘Cinéma
corporel’ . Until now, and through
works that involve increasingly sophisticated technology in ever more complex
interactions, the body remains at the root of their work. Their art could
therefore be described as a symbolical and mysterious universe of the Self,
the keys of which beg discovery, yet even then, do not enable us to decipher
this universe entirely. The Other always remains, as they say, “ungraspable”.
Show for Angel resembled a mythical journey through the Other’s mysterious
territory. The Angel itself was a figure of both poetic and erotic omnipotence.
The path taken by the wonderer calls for detailed
description. Primarily, since the piece was conceived as a series of echoes
between objects, images and sounds. Secondly, since the details are always
extremely elaborate in Klonaris' & Thomadaki’s works. Together they
confered the installation with an irreducible strength and provided the
visitor with a multiplicity of impressions. S/he experienced an absorption
of reality by fantasy, where in the mind, signs became “seeds of a world”,
“absolute origins” of a day-dream .
Show for Angel demonstrated that the aesthetic phenomenon is concerned
with a hidden part of the Self, a part underlying one’s enchantment.
The following text is therefore conceived as a subjective
record of Night Show for Angel. It is narrated in the chronology
of the promenade through the space, as a series of discoveries together
intriguing and fabulous as the treasures encountered in caves, labyrinths
and dreams. At the risk of burning itself, the aesthetic experience can
identify with a tale ...