Night Show for Angel

Cécile Chich

Night Show for Angel, detailNight Show for Angel, detailNight Show for Angel, detail
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 identity.

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 [1], 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 [2]. 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”. Night 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 [3]. Night 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 ...

All photos by Klonaris/Thomadaki unless otherwise stated

Le Cycle de l'Ange (1985-2013)
The Angel Cycle
Night Show for Angel

Photos: copyright Maria Klonaris/Katerina Thomadaki. 
Texts copyright: the writers