Thuistezien 295 — 05.01.2022
A woman frantically runs around a public square. She wants to speak her mind but the software that promised to be the technological upgrade to the ancient Greek ‘bema’, a platform on which an orator steps to address a crowd, will not let her connect. This is a scene that can be found in Eleni Kamma’s solo exhibition ‘Casting Call: The Collector of Proverbs, The Animal, The Fool, The Selfie-Junkie, The Innocent, The Child, The Drunk, The…’ currently being shown at West Den Haag.
The exhibition revolves around the Greek word ‘Parrhesia’, which means the courage to speak one’s mind in public particularly when there is some risk involved as a consequence of doing so. For her, the notion of speaking up reveals a tension between the ‘I’ and the ‘We’. When should I speak up for others? When should I speak up for myself? And when is it in the best interest of myself or the collective that I stay silent? These are questions that hit close to home, especially in the times we currently find ourselves where the health and safety of the collective are constantly assessed against varying conceptions of personal freedom.
Kamma uses humor and appropriates theatrical tools to playfully scrutinize what living well together means in contemporary Europe. Drawings, video works, commissioned texts, and costumes are placed together to assemble what can best be described as a parrhesiastic theater parade. Every room confronts the audience with different archetypal characters who all represent distinct voices within European society. We see people in public space wearing masks of foxes, dogs, and hares, and we see people wearing masks of themselves, meanwhile, in another room, we see a man curiously resembling Geert Wilders give an impassionately dry speech on immigration. These surreal confrontations and more make up the parrhesiastic universe of Kamma’s ‘Casting Call: The Collector of Proverbs, The Animal, The Fool, The Selfie-Junkie, The Innocent, The Child, The Drunk, The…’.
Eleni Kamma is a Greek-Cypriot visual artist born in Athens (1973) who currently lives and works in Brussels and Maastricht. Her practice is informed by reflecting on the symbiosis and tensions between her individual approaches to making (drawings and objects) and her dialogic collaborations (films, performative events, journals). The exhibition is on show from 26.11.2021 till 27.02.2022, please check the website for the opening hours.
Text: Xaver Konneker