© Panos Sklavenitis. All Rights Reserved.

Most Mechanics Are Crooks

Most Mechanics Are Crooks is an artistic and curatorial band that aims to reclaim insincerity as a tool of progressive discourse.

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The Manifesto of New Insincerity
Eva Giannakopoulou, Alexis Fidetzis, Panos Sklavenitis, Kostis Stafylakis
Weimar, Germany, June 19, 2019. Performance in the context of Die Route wird neu berechnet | Kultursymposium Weimar 2019 des Goethe Instituts

The performance “The Manifesto of New Insincerity” is a threefold ode to Xerxes as a screen of orientalist projection. The work’s subtext draws from the homonymous Manifesto written by Most Mechanics Are Crooks in 2019. The greco-persian wars have become part of a western genealogy of European defense of culture and democratic ideals from Oriental expansionism. Adding to the fantasy of Western superiority, the Persian God-King Xerxes has been reintroduced into pop culture as a decadent exotic pansexual narcissist that commits hubris against the valiant defenders of the West, through the work of comic book artist Frank Miller.
The performance weaves four elements together: The mythology of western identity VS the “barbarian other” in recent Hollywoodian cinema, Frank Miller’s production of comics on the story of Xerxes, and two contemporaneous manifestos that plead for a “New sincerity” in order to battle postmodern “irony”, “moral relativism” and “cultural appropriation”, purportedly exacerbated in the post-truth era. The four Mechanics distort today’s pseudo-romantic calls for a return to sincerity and empathy to tell the story of the Oriental queer figure of Xerxes – half product of an orientalist gaze, partly experienced, partly fetishized.
The first part refers to a young Xerxes, smeared as “barbarian” by Greek mothers. The second chapter presents the rise of Xerxes as a “metamodernist” hero, via adaptation and reworking of Frank Miller’s iconography. Here, Xerxes (and the Mechanics) punish the sea of Hellespont to avenge the collapse of the bridges he built. The third chapter of the performance is crafted after the fashion of calming ASMR video clips (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), featuring repetitive movements which produce rhythmic sounds.


Performance In the context of Weasel Dance | The mimetic in the post-digital predicament, Goethe-Institut Athens, March 26, 2019

The performance “Quinoa” draws upon the rapid success of gastronomy reality-TV shows, such as “Master Chef”. This success reflects on the paradoxical dreams and fears of the collapsing middle class in countries such as Greece: the anticipation for more luxury coexisting with the fear of losing access to desired goods and imagined lifestyle due to the recent economic collapse. The casualization of quinoa in Greek cuisine is a paradigmatic instantiation of this dubious impulse. 
The performance takes place around a cooking bench. The four “Mechanics” prepare a meal in the form of a protein bomb consisting mostly of cold cuts. The action begins to mimic the style of a particular subcategory of YouTube and instagram vloggers: Bodybuilders such as Blessing Awodibu, munching on protein powder, throwing it all over the place, bathing in it. The action syncs with a projection showing an animation with the figures of the four mechanics making statements in colorful comic strips. Popular phrases from the vocabulary of gastronomy TV shows are employed to mirror the fetishistic impulse for detail, culinary perfection and delicacy. Food is subjectivized in phrases such as “leave it rest for a while”. In the performance, such phrases are combined with statements praising the extrovert character of the contemporary Greek Art scene, highlighting the proliferation of local fantasies for an artistic career in the cultural field.

Weasel Dance: The Mimetic in the post-digital predicament

Curated by Most Mechanics Are Crooks
Produced by Goethe-Institut Athen
26 March 2019

The weasel dance is a hypnotizing choreography that paralyzes the weasel’s prey. This is, perhaps, a successful depiction of the post-digital predicament: we remain dazzled by the plurality of our on-line identities, digital extensions, “memetic” truisms and mimetic selves while imagining the perpetuation of self-mastery. We, thereby, perform the post-digital trauma: the scars our online masks leave on our faces.

This event brings together a variety of artists working with the schizophrenic economy of the internet and digital mediation. In the decade of “Greek crisis,” these artists witnessed the implosion of social and political sphere, the rise of social media and the sudden gamification of life after Reality TV. They experimented with the vast options of identity molding via the use of avatars, alter egos, masquerade, semblance, mimicry, parafiction and the practice of crafty underhanded ingenuity. Yet, rather than feeding a fantasy of heroic subversiveness, they acknowledge the impact of avatarization and thematize the discomforting effects of their mended self-image.

The Weasel Dance event transforms Goethe-Institut Athen into a lair of alluring post-digital monstrosities. It is the inaugural curatorial project of Most Mechanics Are Crooks, a newly formed artistic and curatorial band that aims to reclaim insincerity as a tool of progressive discourse, challenging the new belief in the existence of ontological truths, unconditional empathy, disarming sincerity and artistic humanism.

Sam Albatros, ASFA Lab 12/Poka-Yio, Ayşenur Babuna, Flower Girls (Eleftheria Kotzaki, Christina Spanou, Dimitra Stamatopoulou), Hypercomf, It's me! (performed by Thanos Ghikas, Helen Karakou, Markella Ksilogiannopoulou), Klassenfahrt (Nikos Arvanitis, Anamarija Batista, Alexios Dallas, Jakob Dietrich, Christine Eder, Kyriaki Goni, Dejan Kaludjerović, Vana Kostayola, Kai Maier-Rothe, Panos Sklavenitis, Kostis Stafylakis, Axel Stockburger), Dimitra Kondylatou, Most Mechanics Are Crooks (Eva Giannakopoulou, Alexis Fidetzis, Panos Sklavenitis, Kostis Stafylakis), Eva Papamargariti, Lykourgos Porfyris, Theo Triantafyllidis, Antigoni Tsagkaropoulou, Michailangelos Vlassis-Ziakas, Vassilis Vlastaras & Maria Glyka.

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