Reality check chapter ΙΙ: inner sanctum

Reality check, chapter ΙΙ: inner sanctum


CONSTANTINOS TALIOTIS - Blast (2022), video still 2
DIMITRA SKANDALI - ..any courage is a fear.. (2022), installation view
DIMITRIS SKOUROGIANNIS - Birthday (2022), installation view
EVI SAVVAIDI - Wonderland (2022), installation view
NIKOS TRANOS - PRIMAVERA (2022), installation view

Reality check 

chapter ΙΙ: 

inner sanctum

Psychiatric Hospital of Attica, Dafni, Athens 

29 Sep 2022 – 30 Oct 2022

curator + concept design: 

Kostas Prapoglou

The geographical location of the Psychiatric Hospital of Attica (Dafni, Athens) is situated on the axis of the ancient Sacred Way that connects the city of Athens with Eleusis. This is where the ritual and procession of the Eleusinian Mysteries used to take place in antiquity. Just across the road from the hospital, one could find the temple of God Apollo (Dafnaios Apollo), above which the Byzantine Monastery of Dafni was built later. The sanctuary of Aphrodite (Aphaia Skaramanga – Haidari) was also located on the same axis. It incorporated carvings and niches on the natural bedrock, where the pilgrims used to place votive offerings to the goddess praying for personal uplift, fulfillment of desires and catharsis.

As a place of ultimate spirituality, noetic uplifting and mental rebirth, the first State Psychiatric Hospital of Athens was founded in 1925 and has been operating continuously until today.

In 2021, the group exhibition reality check took place in one of the largest –abandoned– buildings of the hospital grounds, turning our attention beyond the objective hypostasis of a psychiatric institution.

One year later, the exhibition reality check chapter II: inner sanctum returns to the same place seeking through contemporary art answers to new questions, figments of a dialogue between artists and viewers, which has been unfolding unceasingly since the artistic praxis gave a new breath of life to the empty building at Dafni.

Embarking with the concept of spacelessness [having and understanding no borders or limits] as a starting point, all participating artists will be confronted by their very own selves. This exhibition does not deal with the theme of confinement; it extends beyond the limits of understanding our everyday life and will survey the construction of consciousness, emotion, the deconstructed and restructured speech, our language, and our dreams, placing emphasis on how these factors constantly set new limits on our perception of reality and self-awareness.

Does the future exist and, if so, how close is it?

Do we live in the future and, if so, what value could the present and the past possibly carry?

Suddenly, all these notions turn into subjective conditions intervening and affecting one another, one embedded into the other, negating and overrunning it, leading us towards a reformation of the mental axes and the realisation of the world that we live in.

Spaceless time and timeless place are ubiquitous. We sail towards an unknown direction; the ‘unknown’ often disarms, disorients and paralyses us. And yet, an inner driving force awakens us, challenges us to continue, to breathe, to feel, to love [again]… life itself and our own self seeing it anew, reborn and resurrected.

This power is the inner sanctum that dwells and hides in our souls. It is the place that makes us feel at home. It is our refuge, the locus of our inner flame, our precious sanctuary. It may take time for each of us to discover and realise it. It is usually revealed as the prize for numerous intangible battles, as a trophy of a great victory. It is reminiscent of the inner initiation process of those who were heading to Eleusis during the Sacred Mysteries. It evokes the carved niches at the Sanctuary of Aphrodite, where pilgrims deposited and entrusted their votive offerings to the goddess, asking for peace, euphoria, inner balance and love. The inner sanctum is kept vigorously in the depths of our soul, like a nook with our private devotional secret idol. This object of worship is a living organism, a baby that grows, a plant that eventually blooms. This conceptual theme will be the basis, the yeast and the magic of the artistic creation in the second chapter of reality check.

As artists and audiences continue to experience their own process of perceiving and understanding the world, the idea of exploration and introspection becomes more relevant than ever; it is an inter-personal, inter-social, and universal introspection.

The exhibition building is reshaping into a living body, in which each artist excavates their own sanctuary while each viewer walks through this building-body searching and unconsciously revealing their own references and origins. And as the bodies, the senses, the emotions, the meanings and the materials meet and co-join in a state of anthropocentric interaction, an energy emerges that bridges and unifies everything, putting us all in the flow of a sempiternal and incessant existential journey.

Each artist has a separate room and every viewer has the opportunity to converse with them following their own –personal– mapping of the exhibition. The audience has the opportunity to discover, decipher and interpret the works in their own time. They follow a course within the objective space, while simultaneously developing a dialogue with the subjectivity of space-time into which they will gradually surrender.


Lydia Andrioti (Greece), Christina Anid (France/Greece/Lebanon), Zeina Barakeh (Palestine/Lebanon/USA), Orit Ben Shitrit (Israel/USA/Morocco), Robert Cahen (France), Yannoulis Chalepas (Greece), Evangelos Chatzis (Greece), Lydia Dambassina (Greece), Angie Drakopoulos (USA), Guillermo Galindo (Mexico/USA) Aikaterini Gegisian (UK/Greece), Michal Heiman (Israel), Daniel Hill (USA), Elia Iliadi (Greece), Nikos Kokkalis (Greece), Natalia Manta (Greece), Stella Meletopoulou (Greece), Gisela Meo (Italy), Andreas Mniestris (Greece), Noemi Niederhauser (Switzerland), Vana Ntatsouli (Greece), Stefanos Papadas (Cyprus/Greece), Pipilotti Rist (Switzerland), Evi Savvaidi (Greece), Ariane Severin (Germany/Greece), Nadia Skordopoulou (Greece), Dimitris Skourogiannis (Greece), Dimitra Skandali (Greece), Constantinos Taliotis (Cyprus), Tolis Tatolas (Greece), Nikos Tranos (Greece), Iakovos Volkov (Greece), Tori Wrånes (Norway), Gil Yefman (Israel), Katerina Zacharopoulou (Greece), Eleni Zouni (Greece).

LYDIA ANDRIOTI - Transforming the Unconscious (2022), installation view
CHRISTINA ANID - Litany of desires (2022) installation view
ZEINA BARAKEH - Projections From The Third Half (2018-2020)
ORIT BEN SHITRIT - ECHOES IN MY MOUTH (2022) installation view

Transforming the Unconscious (2022) by Lydia Andrioti is an immersive environment integrating moving image and sound with a series of porcelain sculptures. Invading one of the rooms, her sculptures are ethereal beings that defy dimensional and gravitational laws. Concoctions of imagination but also memory segments from childhood years, mermaids for Andrioti are a symbol that goes beyond the obvious references to ancient Greek mythology and stories of worldwide folklore. For her, mermaids are embodiment of memories that go back as far as the time of prenatal development. The sounds that an embryo hears are very close to the sounds we hear when we go underwater. These sound-pressure waves radiate in all directions producing an incoherent noise. A pervasive feeling of disorientation generates a mystifying distortion of reality. Andrioti’s sculptures that emerge through the walls are entities diving into the murky waters of an unconscious toyland and re-occurring back to our conscious reality. They become devices of broken memory connections and the dissolved vulnerability of the mind. 

Christina Anid’s Litany of Desires (2022) is an homage to the human soul and its need to find peace and redemption. The room is taken over by two sculptures that are both made of innumerable ex-voto offerings, representations of fulfilment of a vow or gratitude towards God or a saint in Christian tradition. Infused by a robust sense of prayer, supplication and meditation, the works on view are vessels of energy and hope. At the same time, the reflective and transformative power of Anid’s writing that covers the wall surfaces, conjures aspects of spiritualism and mysticism. It is an articulation of the power of faith as well as the power of doubt constantly antagonising each other and relentlessly challenging our mind. A heart and a flying child are the answers to this battle and declarations of belief and optimism. They emerge as individual ex-votos themselves promising benevolence, humility, tenderness and kindness. 

Projections From The Third Half (2018-2020) by Zeina Barakeh is an animation series comprising of two parts. The plot puts the focus on war, hostilities and aggression in a fantasy sphere, where elements of reality collide with a surreal reading of time and space. Mythological creatures engage in a battle of undeciphered episodes. Reflecting an inner world in which the past and alternative futures coincide to construct new (im)possibilities, the work is an incubator of multiple meanings that speak about colonialism and decolonisation through the prism of false humanism. Deriving from the artist’s own war memories, her animation is a remark on fears and distrust that permeate human condition and its changeability. Seeking refuge away from all cacotopias and incongruities, Barakeh finds her own inner place, where chaos and disorder are easier to be degraded and effaced. 

Echoes in my mouth (2022) by Orit Ben Shitrit is a speculative video essay narrating a hypothetical future. We are in a post-work and post-creative world and finally unified with the intelligent beings that we created. Memory and trauma can be erased or rewritten; this seems to be a solution to overcome traumas of the past and achieve an artificial tech-based healing. Shitrit’s setting is a memory bank in a secret remote cave. This is the place where real memories are kept and may become available if memory transplants are ever needed. Playing with notions that revolve around technological superiority and boundless possibilities of the human intellect, the artist ingeniously creates a poetic milieu that describes an imagined future society. With a camouflaged sarcasm on the oxymoron of artificial emotional autonomy, the video implies an answer to today’s disparities but concomitantly suggests that it is still not too late to revert back to our self and start depending again on our own resources. 

Parcelle de ciel (1987) by Robert Cahen is an 18-minute video that receives its inspiration from a dance performance choreographed by Susan Buirge. Advanced image processing techniques and other special effects extract the quintessence of movement and sound, spawning an unearthly sequence of time and space that expand and contract perpetually. Indulging us in a feeling of elasticity of time combined with the temporality of human consciousness, Cahen simulates an event that it is almost therapeutic to watch. This visual feast that seems to defy gravitational forces emerges as a representation of a dream-like situation. Evocative of some sacred Dionysiac scene, where rhythmic and motion patterns intertwine and merge into each other, we momentarily perceive the lack of borders and gravity while we are allured by the majestic aura of the dancers. 

Saint George and the Dragon (c.1930) by Yannoulis Chalepas evokes the esoteric struggles and the unrelenting fight of the human soul. With obvious references to the Christian origin of the theme not only in the Eastern Byzantine world but also in the Western tradition (where the legend of St. George was popularised from as early as the 13th century), the artist depicts with a charcoal drawing his own version of the story. Saint George –whose facial characteristics are very close to those of Chalepas himself– is portrayed without his horse stepping directly on to the dragon, having been defeated and slowly losing its strength. The intensity of the scene reflects Chalepas’ own mental state. Having been hospitalised for 14 years (1888-1902) at the Psychiatric Asylum of Corfu, we clearly sense the unwavering autobiographic quality of the work, which is being displayed behind a locked door of one of the hospital rooms and the viewers are to see it only through the observation window. We become the witnesses of the imprint of a suffering human being, who eventually succeeds to survive after a long battle with his demons. 

The installation Paths of Memory (2022) by Evangelos Chatzis is an amalgamation of raw and industrially prepared pieces of marble that sit on mirrors of various sizes. Coming from a family of marble sculptors from the island of Tinos, which is famous for its abundant marble deposits and quarries, the artist uses this material as a reference to his own origins. Having worked for the restoration of monuments including the Parthenon, Chatzis, sees marble as a material with sacred quality, a medium that connects him not only to his ancestors but also with the ancient past. The dialogue with the mirrors inevitably provides an additional space; through their reflections, they transport us to a different dimension, a placeless place. Viewers are free to walk around or between these fragments that initially create a navigational uncertainty. But as we spend more time in the room, we eventually access a deeper realm of reality beyond the physical. We begin to feel energised by the unremitting tension between our world and the one that is quietly emerging before our eyes. 

A word observes you (2022) by Lydia Dambassina, is a survey exercise of the self. Characterised by her signature minimalism that permeates most of her practice, the artist invites the viewer to look at their own reflection through a big mirror placed in the middle of one of the rooms. We suddenly notice that the title of the work appears above us but in reverse. Paying much attention to the meaning of words and as philosopher Maurice Blanchot had previously discussed in his book Thomas l’Obscur (1976), Dambassina interconnects the importance of vision with that of language and investigates the multifactorial relation between written speech and observation. How can it be possible to be observed or haunted by a single word –or more– throughout our life? The artist here testifies the potency of a word to become as strong as a gaze. This work that also entails a printed image placed before the main room, is all about our inner compass; it is about the way we navigate ourselves according to what we carry within us –secrets, emotions, aspirations and guilt– silently shaping up who and what we are most likely going to become. 

Avaton | Adyton (2022) by Angie Drakopoulos and Daniel Hill is a collaborative installation that takes the space of two rooms. In the antechamber –the passage room– a collection of wooden boxes with sculptures and sounds from nature gently prepare the viewer for the second room. There, two video projections based on interpretations of fire/sun and water/earth stimulate and inspirit us with a unique environment. Evolving the work that both artists presented in the first chapter of reality check in 2021, Drakopoulos and Hill delve into those leitmotifs and ideas that synthesise our world and our continuing disconnection with it. Societal modification and shifting interpersonal behaviours have driven us far from nature, from the genesis of our existence. This work is a simulacrum of a personal journey towards catharsis and reconnection. It is a post-vision of the Eleusinian procession, revisited and re-evaluated, where wooden boxes act as vessels of sonic offerings allowing us to proceed with the visual encounter further in. Triggering our senses, Avaton | Adyton acts as a psychopomp leading our soul to its ultimate source. 

You faked your way into my dreams. Now let me die in peace.. (2022) by Guillermo Galindo is a three-channel video installation that creates an environment in direct dialogue with the permanent features of the room. Blending in perfectly with the wall decoration, three monitors become animated images of the unconscious. Imaginary insect/plant/microbe-like creatures challenge aspects of ontological ethics within a context of the ruinous unconscious, where phobias are part of a never-ending confrontational game. The artist’s independent entities exist as live paintings and interact not only with the room itself and its forceful energy but also with everyone who enters it and decides to converse with it. This futuristic mutant setting has nothing to do with religion itself; it is a commentary on the perception of reality depending on the mental state we are currently in. It divulges as a conglomeration of all those essentials that determine our existence the way we experience pain, belief in ourself, intention, desire, emotion, and memory. Galindo’s biogenetic life-forms is a personal construct of his own life helping him and hopefully others to exit dark pathways where they sometimes find themselves wandering. 

TO BE CONTINUED … (Untitled) (2022) by Aikaterini Gegisian is an installation that departs from a quote found in the artist’s childhood documentation book describing how as a toddler she was drawn to bright colours and enjoyed collecting flowers. This work was developed as a conversation with The Yellow Wall-paper, a story by American feminist writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935), where a woman suffering from a “temporary nervous depression” starts seeing the patterns of the wallpaper become alive and eventually believes that she is trapped behind it. It also pays homage to the interiority in Yayoi Kusama’s dot environmental installations and to the exploration of the formal properties of colour shapes in John Baldessari’s photographic work. Gegisian’s found objects, collage and wallpaper, are all a melange of cultural references that pronounce her close relation to living with found images and the esoteric need to produce new visual material from what she has been collecting for years. From the vivid call up to childhood to the homemaking display in her room at Dafni, she generates a domain of permanence and an inner cosmos of femininity. 

LYDIA DAMBASSINA - A WORD OBSERVES YOU (2022) installation view, photo by Manolis Baboussis
GIL YEFMAN - CCTV4U (2022), installation view
STELLA MELETOPOULOU - Journeys of Healing (2022), installation view

Thirdly: Animation No. 1 (2008-2022) by Michal Heiman is a journey of esotericism and perplex process of tracing female figures, who remained anonymous and excluded despite their active presence in their environment or their field of contribution, especially in the field of arts and psychoanalysis during the last two centuries. Isolating photographs of these women, she engineers a narrative where silenced lives become noticed and are converted into moving images with layers of sound from several time periods. Employing the use of new and advanced technological means, the artist regenerates a –partially– still image that is incorporated with her own body movement thus creating an uncanny and occult situation that defies the boundaries of ‘present’ reality. The indication ‘Photographer Unknown’ that floats frozen in the image’s own space-time, manifests the continuation of anonymity on all levels, perhaps disclosing vital information about all subjects; not only about the individual who was photographed but the actual photographer too. Heiman’s moving image is a psychogram, ingeniously capturing the human soul and the experiences of being in a self-portrait of life itself. 

id (2022) by Elia Iliadi is a site-specific durational performance that begins with the start of the exhibition and ends with its conclusion as it is intimately related and dependent on its audience. Each viewer is free to enter the artist’s sacred space, sit in front of her and answer laconically a secret question. The answer is written anonymously on a piece of paper and, later, it is taken by her assistants, who re-produce it in latex at a dedicated lab next door. All answers are transformed into leather-like inscriptions which are then suspended from the ceiling above the artist, gradually populating the room on a day-to-day basis. With references to initiation practices involving ancient mysteries but also to Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, Iliadi’s interactive work concentrates on the id, the instinctual and primitive section of the mind that hides sexual and aggressive drives as well as concealed memories. Viewers are abruptly prompted to anonymously express their deepest and most inner self, temporarily overlooking the two other agents that altogether define and stabilise the mental status and the behaviour of a person; the ego and the super ego. Iliadi’s room will progressively turn into an extraordinary thinktank of desires and unconscious pleasures. 

BRAIN_RINTH (2020-22) by artists Nikos Kokkalis and Stefanos Papadas and sound composer Andreas Mniestris, is a visual experiment that embraces the intricate functions of the brain. Synapses, memories, packed information, waste of the unconscious and a vast range of MRI scans bombard us and constitute an account on the conscious self. Embarking from the condition of trauma, the team of artists deals with the way the brain triggers and escalates ways to process it and eventually control and surpass it. Images related to every phase of our life –from the stage of pre-birth to that of death– interpret how consciousness is formed depending on our intellect and our given psychological condition. The labyrinthine mechanism of the brain that encompasses innumerable noetic functions, is activated by nature in the most complicated way which to us, as plain observers, equals to the simplicity of nothing. Such an oxymoron can hardly be understood, and we can only experience it cognitively as we continue to live. And although the cycle of life resounds our corporeality and ephemerality, it concurrently brings to the fore that driving inner force, which is programmed to auto-heal us and make us want to carry on existing. 

Natalia Manta’s HYBRID BELLADONNA (2022) is a sculptural installation occupying the centre of a room and integrating a plethora of organic and inorganic materials. Upon first inspection, the transcendental appearance of the work creates an impression of an alien organism, which lives on water, growing and expanding. Its system of roots supports an upper structure that shapes a puzzling entity. Not being able to distinguish whether this is a thinking organism or simply a parasitic post-human anomaly in an apocalyptic vision, viewers are baffled by its presence. At the same time, its totemic guise echoes a looming religious and spiritual capacity. Its biomorphic shape suggests some sort of life-form. The three pillars radiating light are sources of supreme energy or some sort of an elusive device whereas the two small onion-shaped objects could be seeds, eggs or some tools of worship. Malignant or benign in character, the structure emerges as a powerful effigy of the unconscious. Its ambiguous identity might trouble us but we somehow feel an inexplicable tranquillity and calmness as soon as we feel close to it. 

Journeys of Healing (2022) by Stella Meletopoulou is a site-specific painting installation that is solely inspired by the power and the pulse of the venue. Invading the room with her canvas paintings, the artist takes up on a long journey to absorb and decode the intense energy of the space and convey it on to her own surfaces. Activating all receptors, Meletopoulou moves between the conscious and the unconscious, abidingly feeding one another with her ardent visual lexicon. Geometrical shapes, symbols and an array of other curious signs, devise a new ethereal landscape. This is a place of contemplation not only for the artist but for visitors too. An eruption of secret messages equipoises chaos and harmony. It is an immersive situation that resists confinement and it desires to grow, invade the rest of the building, unlock and illuminate all of its rooms. Such continuous play between internal and external space redefines the limits of our existence, simultaneously posing pivotal questions about our own hypostasis and destination. 

With Aphrodite in the reflection of light and weaves (2022) by Gisella Meo marks the completion of a trilogy that began some years ago in Treviso (2013) and Cerveteri (2018) in Italy. Before researching the locality of our venue and its proximity to the sanctuary of Aphrodite, Meo had coincidentally visualised her very own inner sanctum carved in rock and protected by a net of silk. The quaint parallelism that surfaced through a ploy of the unconscious, suddenly merged the two places into one like an unexplained attraction. For the artist, light and transparency are the main elements of this realm; they become her own symbolical way of exploring her esoteric universe. The formation of a room within a room –a box inside a box– where viewers can enter freely is a testimony of self-openness and truth. Superimposing our world on her world and uniting them, reveals the utmost principle of sharing and giving. 

Noemi Niederhauser’s Material Instinct (2022) is an installation of votive objects created from mycelium, the vegetative part of a fungus, or a fungus-like bacterial colony. Every object is independently titled with a poem that is associated with the act of giving birth, the significance of motherhood and inner feelings. Instead of utilising materials such as marble or metal that are normally used for their endurance and resilience, the artist chooses as her medium a living organism that its short life-cycle ignites recycling. Niederhauser’s votives obtain a dual meaning; apart from the actual representation of the items, they also become the medium and the prime matter to nurture life, to secure its perpetuation and pass on the torch to the next generations. This installation is an ode to transformation, to the principle of interconnectedness that we are all part of, not only on an organic but also on an emotional and cerebral level. 

Vana Ntatsouli’s it’s not what you think (2022), attests to the existential reverie of a fictional character, whose personal story unfolds notions of emotional equilibrium. A gentle giant sits calmly in lotus position in one of the corners of the room with a balmy smile in his face. His posture indicates a meditational state, which has eventually helped him reach a state of tranquillity. His crown –a symbol of achievement and fulfilment for the artist– lies on the floor as a precious trophy, which he is ready to offer as a gesture of kindness and gratitude. Pieces of fabric on the floor are all part of his and, in combination with his embroidered biographical narration, a reminder of where he comes from and what he is truly made of. Ntatsouli’s work is an open invitation to accept ourselves the way we are and search for the endless possibilities of self-development and advancement. It is a mental process of self-reflection and mindfulness, as fundamental elements of human thinking; an truthful example of a long-achieved victory. 

GIUILLERMO GALINDO - You faked your way into my dreams, now let me die in peace (2022) installation view
NOEMI NIEDERHAUSER - Material Instinct (2022) detail
MICHAL HEIMAN - Thirdly Animation No. 1 (2008-2022), video still
NADIA SKORDOPOULOU - Your soul that never wears, Your spirit that never tears (2022) installation view
PIPILOTTI RIST - I'm Not the Girl Who Misses Much (1987), video still


Pipilotti Rist’s I’m Not The Girl Who Misses Much (1986) is a five-minute single-channel video, one of the artist’s early works, which is made to be shown through a domestic-style monitor. At a young age here, the artist is wearing a black dress in an empty white room. For its title, the work adapts the first line of the 1968 Beatles song Happiness is a Warm Gun (written by John Lennon about Yoko Ono, the song begins She’s not a girl who misses much). With strong remarks on the role of women in society, Rist in her video continuously repeats the same line throughout its entire duration. Going through a succession of emotional states –from calm to insane, and from hysterical to peaceful– she encourages viewers to consider the space they are in, introducing a transformative experience to them. The tenacious repetition of the verse that initially seems to make sense, it soon turns into an unending mantra, a ritual that deconstructs all words and deploys them as magic spells. The distortion of colour, motion speed, and sound, tricks the eye with visual discontinuities fabricating a surreal twist. Rist’s video is a poignant reminder of the passing of time and our need to co-exist with it, eluding all esoteric combats. 

Wonderland (2022) by Evi Savvaidi dives into a domain of childhood memories, where images from the past erupt and construct the most favourite of memories, that of the family home. Traversing across themes of nostalgia and loss, the artist brings to our mind visual textures of the past. Meticulously transferring down to scale an entire neoclassical building with as much detail as possible, she creates an environment that speaks deep to our heart. The recollection of the place we grew up, often fills us with mixed feelings; happy memories can give way to sad memories, eventually creating an emotional rollercoaster. Allowing us to see both sides, –the magnificent façade but also the raw interior with all its supporting apparatus–, the work of Savvaidi represents a duality that melds architecture with the system of ‘memory – body’ into a single entity. It freezes moments in time pronouncing, at the same time, the emotional response to the displacement of feelings in personal and collective realms. The hypertrophic appearance of a flower stem just before blooming denotes the development of the self and its advancement. The immense pink colour declares a series of eloquent connotations orbiting around amity, affection, and inner peace. 

Ariane Severin’s Chronicles of Cosmic Love (2020-22) is a constellation of curious creatures that look like a paradoxical produce of a world unfamiliar to us. Utilising embroidery as her main medium, the artist’s figures are imbued by an indeterminate playfulness combined with aspects of the uncanny. The colourful portrayal of her talismans in a form of apotropaic figures is somewhat unsettling. Cartoon-like as they seem at first glance, they are, in fact, charged with a preternatural power that soon turns into a consequential manifestation of energy and strength. Severin’s anthropomorphic beings are carriers of protective properties; they are those guardian angels we all hope to have beside us, guiding us towards a path of happiness and spiritualism. 

The installation of Dimitra Skandali ..any courage is a fear.. (2022) –a title that comes from a poem by E.E. Cummings (1894-1962)– is an immersive environment surveying the oppositions between the imbalances of the outside world and the potential tranquility that can be achieved through esoteric processes. War, conflict and environmental degradation are some of today’s traits that the artist wishes to expel from our life. Employing materials that channel undisturbed peacefulness and serenity, she proposes a new space for rumination and equilibrium. This is her own domain that she gracefully shares and invites us to be a part of and re-construct a new –sturdier– inner fortress. Reverberating positive frequencies, Skandali’s work is a poetic take of our actuality suggestive of the universality of humanity and the re-establishment of our higher self. 

Nadia Skordopoulou’s Your soul that never wears, Your spirit that never tears (2022) is an installation moving between internal and external space, making a place for contemplation. It is inspired by the aeroponic technique that helps plants grow in the air without the use of soil in a controlled environment. The total isolation of plants from the soil promotes a healthier and quicker disease and pest free growth. However, Skordopoulou, brings the earth into her room and separates it from her plants that are all suspended from above. She underlines this disconnection by creating a new condition of living and a new way of understanding our cosmos. Symbols of virility and fertility in ancient Greece, orchids are the protagonists of the artist’s narrative. She re-imagines her own sanctuary, where votives are transfigured into plants and are sent to the sky like prayers. A soundscape is united with the physical presence of all earthly elements creating a sublime ambience that takes us to an uplifting and joyful state. 

Birthday (2022) by Dimitris Skourogiannis is a re-interpretation of The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, a West German romantic drama film written and directed by R. W. Fassbinder in 1972. Revolving around the main protagonist of the film, Petra, a self-centered individual whose character moves between codependent tendencies, emotional fluctuations and sadism, the artist reinvents her bedroom, the main setting of the story. Playing a pivotal but uncanny role in every scene, mannequins also occupy Skourogiannis’s stage. Symbols of emotional numbness but also transitional objects and vessels of expression, dolls lie down muted, trapped within a large cage-like structure that resembles Petra’s emotional cage. The sound piece by The Platters, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (1959), breaks the ambience of claustrophobia, pessimism and nihilism. It is this very moment when the realisation of a life-turning point becomes the epicentre of the room with only one doll –solely created by the artist and resembling himself at a young age– extending its arm in an attempt to be reborn, rise and live. Birthday is a life stage-set seeking to harness our trepidations and metamorphose them into a comprehensive awareness of our existence. 

Blast (2022) by Constantinos Taliotis is a triptych of video essays that are presented one next to each other as a sequence of a seconds-long footage. Filmed by the artist himself during a dolerite stone quarry explosion, we become passive receivers of an assault against nature. Interrogating the relation between the Anthropocene epoch, landscape and nature, the artist expresses an endemic sense of anxiety and distress –best described today as solastalgia1. Accentuating the proprietorial systems of human dominance, the three videos signify the cannibalism of our natural resources and the thirst for exploitation that are frequently interconnected with economic interest and geopolitical pursuits. The undisguised violence of explosion collated against the value of the spectacle, traces and puts to the test the effect on our induced angry feelings and thoughts. Blast becomes a tool for viewing the fractured morals and principles of our society and the momentous need for healing and retraction. 

Letters’ Altar (2022) by Tolis Tatolas examines our relation to the accelerating extinction of written speech as a medium of ultimate expression. The installation comprises an altar made of rubble –remnants of humanity– while written religious banner-type surfaces, establish a shrine dedicated to the decay and the deconstruction of civilisation as we know it. A book of holy writings –an assembly of words and phrases of humankind since its very beginning– demarcates the end of speech, which is represented by an act of sacrifice; it becomes an offering to a new consecrated and undeciphered actuality. Through his linguistic environment, the artist turns the choreography of words and symbols into a stratification of thoughts, all deriving directly from an inner source. Emphasising on notions of utopianism, Tatolas dwells on the disorder and the ideological follies of our world and invokes through a soundscape his fears about the metamorphosis of collective consciousness and intellect. A lingering light above everything suggests a threshold of hope and faith. 

The installation Primavera (2022) by Nikos Tranos is a landscape of hundreds of glazed ceramic lilies sprouting from an assortment of furniture pieces. This eruption of blossom right in the middle of the venue creates a lyrical mindfield, which is expanding on the changeability of the human condition as well as on themes of youth and hope. Creating a sphere of timelessness and atemporality, the work of Tranos is set against the disparities of decay and collapse. His lilies are carriers of life and attestations of new beginnings. All salvaged items synthesising a ruinous zone, become for the artist the foundations for something new to be built upon and rise as a new life. This structure of sacred reality captures the ephemeral quality of memory, urging us to look beyond the human world in a meta place of beauty and an alternative future. 

The work of Iakovos Volkov initiates an other-worldly environment –a dark room– where viewers are confronted by a verbal fragment of –what is considered to be– the greatest monologue in science fiction history. All these moments will be lost in time like clouds in heaven (2022) is an extract from the final words of an android’s swan song about to be terminated in the film Blade Runner (1981). The artist depicts this statement in bright colours juxtaposed against a background of as close to Vantablack (the blackest manmade black known to us) as possible. Toying with opposing emotional conditions, Volkov traces his own redemption through the darkest of paths. The implying toxicity of his materials is eliminated by a surfacing optimism that gradually spreads its light across all borders of shadowland, making us all part of his philosophical quest. 

ECHO FACE (2020-22) by Tori Wrånes is a video documentation of a multisensorial live performance. Presenting herself as a transcendental creature that bizarrely appears so familiar to us, she engages in a mesmerising singing performance. Her vocalisations are constructs of her creative mind and imagination and, although they bear no particular meaning, her song’s lyrics strangely speak to our soul. The fantastical storytelling of Wrånes, reverberates the memories of her past, childhood and the remote Norwegian village she comes from. In a world increasingly divorced from our physical landscape and environment, the artist’s work brings us closer to our origins, our spiritual well-being and the detoxification from our own self. The peculiar appearance of the performer that merges two faces, or even two bodies into one, blurs the boundaries of reality but, at the same time, it forms a deep interpersonal connection that is hard to come to terms with and rationalise. 

Gil Yefman’s CCTV4u (2022) is a constellation of knitted eyes that are suspended from the ceiling. Being able to walk around them, the viewer is provoked by a persistent stare coming from above. The eyes appear wide open, floating in the confined space of his room and are stretched with cord whereas black zip-ties give the impression of eyelashes. Their double-sided gaze –both outwards and inwards– interrogates what is considered to be normal, healthy and sensible. Seeking to embody the therapeutic –for him– properties of the process of knitting as a medium of his artistic utterance, Yefman reflects upon language, dogmatic cultural references and patterns of human action and reaction. Focusing on the estranging feeling of being watched, criticised and judged, his work initially engenders an atmosphere of ambiguity but, at the same time, it activates a self-mechanism of introversion. We retract to our innermost layers of our soul; the birthplace of our hope, faith and wholeness. 

The Eyes (2011-2022) by Katerina Zacharopoulou is a single-channel video that is inspired by the gaze of Miss Jane Bowles, a four-year-old girl depicted in a 1775 portrait painted by English artist Joshua Reynolds (1723-92). Drawn by the vivacity, innocence and spirit of the girl, the artist isolated her face and digitally superimposed over it the moving eyes of an adult. Perceiving the eyes as the window to the soul, Zacharopoulou metaphorically juxtaposes the purity of a young child against all characteristics of a grown-up. Merging them together impregnates a cycle as well as a turmoil of feelings and emotions; from calmness to anxiety and from trepidation to placidity. The positioning of the video at the far end of one of the building wings, enunciates not only the desire of observation and vigilance but also the process of comprehension and self-reflection. The soundless video contrives an eerie aura confronting but also magnetising the viewer, like a mirror that sometimes attracts and other times repels us. 

Eleni Zouni’s Untraceable trajectories (2022) is a large-scale work on canvas that responds to the building’s immediate surroundings. Made with multiple layers of acrylic paint, ink and charcoal, the work is placed on one of the walls but it inexplicably dilates towards every direction. For Zouni, the tendency of expansion is almost impulsive. Experiencing the venue from the very start of the preparations for the first chapter of reality check, she came up against the vibrations and the energy of our space from the early stages of this journey. The viewer is encouraged to sit and explore the terrain that opens up before their eyes taking them on an almost psychedelic trip. Brushstrokes that follow their unspecified and unpredicted route on the canvas surface suddenly erupt and continue their trajectory outside its physical borders. This act denotes the re-evaluation of interiority that happens towards an extended space. This is the space that is embedded within our conscious limits and also within the unconscious enigmas of our selves. 

Reality check

chapter ΙΙ:

inner sanctum

Psychiatric Hospital of Attica, Dafni, Athens

29 Sep 2022 – 30 Oct 2022

curator + concept design:

Kostas Prapoglou


Media Contact:

communication [at]