Curated by Marco Scotini
The Archive, the triple show of Czech artist Zbynek Baladràn (1973) and of Greek artists Eva Stefani (1964) and Stefanos Tsivopoulos opens on Thursday 8 May in Ida Pisani’s Prometeogallery. The Greek artists make their debut in Italy on this occasion. The three video artists share the same research into the gap between reality and fiction, memory and its reactivation.
Baladràn, Stefani and Tsivopoulos are scrupulous investigators of reality and carry out their research on the double level of the facts of history and of the images representing them. Recording procedures, the narrative mechanisms of stories and the risk of exploiting images are put to the test in their work. Reality explorers and archivists of the past, Baladràn, Stefani and Tsivopoulos record the passage of time and deconstruct the ideological pretence of filming life “as it is” or “as it was”, allowing a vast range of individual interpretation exercises.
The title, The Archive, chosen by Marco Scotini for this occasion, is not so much a reference to the artists’ working method as to the stocks from which they draw their documentation, to the multiple archives they dig up and then refilm and to the images they recover and re-edit out of their original context. Found Footage of different origin is the starting point of all the exhibited works, despite the different strategies pursued by the artists and the different fields of action in which each of them operates. What is common to all these works is that they demolish the coordinates of the present and question memory.
Zbynek Baladràn makes films from films. He questions official Czech television propaganda films not so much for what they document but for their recording procedures and modes of perception. Thanks to his “non-invasive archaeology”, each of Baladran’s videos is a precipitate of pictures, amateur reels, old reportage, newsreels which aspire to be documentaries with an arbitrary editing and a subjective-associative order.
“Documentary Fiction” is how Sefanos Tsivopoulos defines his artistic strategy which attempts to compare the recording of reality with the codes of cinema practices and fictional rhetorical narratives. Remake, the film he presents here, which participated in the 1st Athens Biennale, employs archive footage from the Colonel regime of the late ’60s and from the first years of Greek State TV. The technological equipment of the time is filmed along with fictitious sets documenting the TV studios of that period.
The documentary and realistic character of Eva Stefani’s videos on the social and ordinary reality of modern-day Greece in Acropolis (2007) gives way to the editing of found footage of different origin. Entirely made by cutting and pasting old X rated and amateur films bought at flea markets, Acropolis questions collective memory and national identity. With surrealistic mirth, the video compares the monumental body of the Acropolis with the woman’s body through a game of cross-references to cultural pillage, moral expropriation, pornography and history.