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I may be short, but at least I'm pretty DETAIL

dimitra vamiali: kappatos gallery athens, greece


Dimitra Vamiali's solo show at the Kappatos Gallery, in Athens, works to create the spaces for the exploration of what is one of her most interesting themes: potentiality, as an aspect of the experience of individual "becoming"---complex and in flux.

Through two interrelated installations which involve different forms, languages, and techniques Vamiali brings into focus multiple turning points, in-between moments and spaces on the "brink" of transformation and change.

The result is an intriguing, introspective, and often humorous exhibit, in which the experience of these moments and spaces for Vamiali are, ultimately, part of a gentle and perpetual process of identity constitution and self-realization.

The first installation "The Party" consisted of twenty-three, 2 dimensional works varied in size, format, and technique: colour photographs, black and white paintings on PVC, and colorful drawings on glossy paper.

These works were arranged on the walls in a strong and idiosyncratic manner. Although they are not characterized by any morphological or symbolic imagery, together they present a controlled and humorous decision to prevent a meta-narrative from taking place, to create instead moments of what might be described as "non-readable continuums". Vamiali nevertheless gave each work a human name, not as one would to a portrait corresponding to a specific person, but in an attempt to "personalize" each work---thus, each one could stand alone, or together as a group much in the same way as imaginary and unknown guests at a party---a source of fascination, excitement, variety, and an undefined sense of potential.

Focusing on the works involved allowing oneself to be seduced by the surfaces of the "imaginary guests" much as one is through the dynamics of party situations. Two works that played this seductive role especially well were "Sunny"---a square canvas covered with black PVC and a white crescent moon shape hanging on the right-hand corner, and "Flipox"--a small white PVC covered canvas completely covered with an egg-like pattern, both positioned in different ways in relation to the rest of the works of the installation.

In the adjoining room of the gallery was Vamiali's second installation. In the middle of the room was a large PVC white cushion, "the pedestal" according to Vamiali, one which was actually too big to be a cushion, but also too small to be a mattress. Next to it was a small, wooden piece of furniture, with a perfect finish, something along the lines of a bedside table, reminiscent of an old-fashioned radio. On each side there were lights and on top, a large, beautiful button (the kind you press).

Two identical photographs on opposite walls entitled "Pretty but Short" and "Short but Pretty" featured Vamiali standing on the "the pedestal" in an empty gallery room, looking with a wry expression at a tall young man who stands next to her. The fact that the photos are identical copies is a trademark of Vamiali's ---she often works in pairs, perhaps in an attempt to alleviate the anxiety caused by the power of the single, unique image.

Vamiali uses the pedestal in order to create more height for herself, to become taller, to change what is received for granted about herself, in particular her height. Of course, this is a failed attempt, the pedestal does not bring about the change desired, in fact it doesn't bring about any change---nothing happens, the potential inherent in this use of the prop remains unfulfilled.

The wooden box too is also a medium of such temporarily unfulfilled potentials---with its polished button and its connotations of control, it holds the promise of a reaction that will follow the insignificant motion involved in pressing it and of change, reaction and new experiences. Thus, the moment prior to its pressing is crystalized in this exhibit: the moment in which multiple potentials, avenues and realities abound with unpredictable events, relationships, and transformations.

Vamiali has explored this moment in different ways in a variety of venues. Her work, Meditation 1, part of the Cluster bomb group show at the Morrison Judd Gallery (Nov.1998) as well as the Show Me the Money exhibition at 8, Duke Mews (Sept.1998), both in London, involved a "bunch" of night lights linked to a square poof covered with instructions as to the workings of a brain---the various, multiple, and parallel functions and operations which result from the moment of thought and inspiration "mapped" or "tracked" in a humorous and self-reflexive way.

In her exhibit at the Loops show a year ago at the Soap Factory in Athens, Vamiali also pursued this avenue again---through texts and twin photographs, she dealt with the moments described here but in this case, both the glossy, seductive button well as the results of its manipulation are both inscribed on Vamiali's body itself as well as on her psyche.

Throughout her work of many genres and forms, Vamiali seems to attempt to trace the parameters and dimensions that hold the potential for change and transformation, and to capture the moment(s) in which these are perceived, understood, and negotiated---whether these moments are exciting, anxiety-ridden, or awkward.

She has described herself as a "gentle spy" trying to detect the rules of life. This however, is as much a process of their constitution as it is of their detection, if not more so, a process which at once seeks to constitute the parameters of the self and even to define the self itself. The issue here is not one of control and manipulation, instead, through the humor and often playful introspection of Vamiali's work, she brings to the surface the adventure and pleasure involved in creating coherence and meanings through a multiplicity of parameters, dimensions, options, potentials as well as through her use of a wide variety of genres and forms. Gaining access to Vamiali's world, exploring the potentialities of experience and of transformation inherent in her work, offers these experiences to her viewers as well.

Krini Kafiris