Curated by Kostis Stafylakis
Performance: Thanos Ghikas, Helen Karakou, Orfeas Kyriakos Makaris Kapetanakis, Markella Ksilogiannopoulou
Saturday, 1st June 2019, 19.00, Stoa 42, Athens, GR
Performance: Thanos Ghikas, Thodoris Kakitsos, Markella Ksilogiannopoulou
In the context of Weasel Dance | The mimetic in the post-digital predicament
Curated by Most Mechanics Are Crooks
Goethe-Institut Athen, March 26, 2019
“Hi people, it’s me! A herd and a caucus. A crepuscular groupuscule” (open rehersal)
Performers that have participated in the project so far have been: Thanos Ghikas, Charitomeni Mara, Christopher Ioakimidis, Helen Karakou, Orfeas Kyriakos Makaris Kapetanakis, Markella Ksilogiannopoulou, Katerina Lebidara, Anastasia Pampouropoulou, Georgia - Ivi Pappa, Sophia Pappa, Theodora Savvalaridi, Avgoustina Stylianou, Ilias Tafaruci, Tania Varveri, Andreas Vidalis, Haris Vlahos.
Monday, February 11, 2019, TWIXTlab, Athens, GR
In his recent work, Panos Sklavenitis experiments with the dynamics of absurdly tuned groupuscules. In 2018 6th Athens Biennale, Sklavenitis presented “Cargo”, a ritualistic Cargo cult dressed with rags and leftovers from Greek nationalist rallies. Recently, Sklavenitis designed a live action role play for art students. Each student has to learn to mimic an animal.
Most probably, this is not some posthuman attempt to “feel” the animal. This is not a “becoming animal”, but “it’s me”: An exercise in anthropocentricism, a treatise on the anthropocentric imagination, or a flirt with the sexual anxiety/fantasy triggered by animalistic mimicry. Sklavenitis looks into the orwellean tendency in post-digital art but cancels the didactism of the animal-image, sabotaging its allegorical usage in centuries of literature. The “artist and the animal” is an intertemporal trope; we should perhaps revisit some examples: From Valie Export walking Peter Weibel as a dog, to Joseph Beuys and the coyote, to Oleg Kulic’ Mad Dog performances, to cosplay aesthetics in recent works by Korakrit Arunanondchai & Alex Gvojic et.al.
Rather than alluding to the monistic tendencies in theories of posthumanism (all is part of the same life force, which facilitates the creative trespassing of epistemic boundaries), Sklavenitis exposes the ontic dualism of the (post-)digital era and subjectivity. For the seamlessly online self, the animal becomes animalistic, material ectoplasm, the dark-side of the digit, or the other of the (bio)metric. In the (post)digital era, the animal tends to be depicted, via dualism, as monstrous, a crack in the algorithm, the sinister transgressivity of the animal-headed troll, the vitalist fantasy of a “dark-web”. In this predicament, the animal is a god symbol of trollish subversion. Sklavenitis visits this dualism, and risks to restage it by performative means. His “animals” are avatars cum flesh, ruins of the popularized fantasy of an anonymous revolt against civility, galvanized for more than two decades on row.
The animalistic mimicries presented by Sklavenitis and his performers are products of a certain type of authority, gracefully embraced by the artist. He mostly works with art students and, by stepping into the shoes of the game master, he introduces them to role-play. Together, they serve the gamification of the cityscape through long-term processes of rehearsal, trial and error, and debriefing. Sklavenitis suggests and gratifies certain animalistic semblances produced by his students, without intention to obscure his authorial supervision or oversight. In contrast to earlier experiments with the animal, Sklavenitis exempts himself from the act of mimesis. He unapologetically animalizes others, acknowledging the power play on behalf of all sides involved. Eventually, he explores this failure to instrumentalize the other, which is stressed by the very tautology of authorship inscribed in the confessional title, “it’s me”. This is neither trespassing nor “becoming”. This is mimicry for the sake of the mimetic. These performances propose that, in some cases, mimicry is neither part of some emancipatory plan, nor the direct extension of the artist’s ethical position. Mimicry is, also, a trial with no sublime goal.
text by Kostis Stafylakis