A nation’s cultural heritage consists of historical exhibits, as shaped by the human/ creator, witnessing the social impact and conceptual characteristics implied by the modes of expression at his/her disposal. Through a cultural institution’s capacity of safekeeping and displaying a historical archive, the ‘exhibit’ takes a distance from human presence - the creator and the user alike. Exploring the museum’s significance as a ‘guard’ of cultural values for a social ensemble and in a extension for a nation in whole, visual artist PASHIAS proposes the introduction of contemporary art forms into its context of activity, emphasizing the conjunction of sculptural art and the art of performance. By using the human body as basic material for creation, the artist’s live presence is incorporated into the museum’s exhibitory framework, as the artwork’s production process is equated with the final artwork itself. Through his developing curatorial approach PASHIAS has collaborated with the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation, to present the series of events “Temple-boy”. Contemporary expression visits and explores its ‘fundamental’ origin of creation, whilst the historic exhibit comes - again - in direct contact with human presence, defining its value as an ‘everlasting’ artifact. Through performance art, a specific ‘environment’ or situation is set up, in which the parameters of artistic action, such as space (frame of museoligical exhibits), time, body in action (artist), audience members and objects, coexist in an attempt to communicate images, ideological fragments and notions, beyond the necessity of narrative cohesion. After the completion of live action, the artwork takes the form of an installation, in terms of objects, visual notes, photographic and/or video documentation, remaining at the exhibitory space in conversation with the historical collection. Based on the archeological collection of George and Nefeli Giabra Pierides housed by the foundation, PASHIAS assumes the position of a limestone figurine from the series ‘temple boys’ - a valuable example of Cypriot sculptural expression originating from the 5th century until the middle of 4th century BC, documented as a possible offering to deities or keepsakes for rituals devoted to the successful passing of children from infancy to adulthood. The arist’s body, situtated as a ‘servant’ to the museum, is placed at the questionable position of fulfiling the capacity of art - and in extension of an artist - to ‘entertain’ and ‘educate’ a social ensemble. The artwork “Temple-boy” - live performance and exhibition, attempts to initiate a process of offering, consumption, transformation and communication, exploring the museological responsibility to guard and preserve historical heritage, in terms of an individual and communal ability to ‘reassemble’ and ‘create’ anew.
Alongside the finissage of exhibition “Temple-boy”, PASHIAS in collaboration with the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation, presented the lecture “Body & Exhibit - The historical exhibit as point of departure for contemporary creation” bringing together esteemed speakers from diverse formats of expression, such as visual arts, photography, dance and architecture, investigating the impact of practices and specific artworks, bearing the historical exhibit as their central axis. The lecture shifts from Elena Antoniou’s (Dance & Performance Artist) performance “In Situ” that took place at the Limassol Archaeological Museum, to Elena Stylianou (Assistant Professor, European University Cyprus) and Artemis Eleftheriadou’s (Associate Professor, Frederick University) photographic project “Ar[t]chaeology”, touching upon the recent series of events “Temple-boy” with contributor Elizabeth Hoak-Doering (Visual Artist), and going over an architectural study of ‘embodied’ spaces with Melina Philippou (Architect, Researcher for Future Heritage Lab / Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Demetris Venizelos (Architect, Researcher for University of Cyprus). Temple-boy
Body & Exhibit
Live performance 07/12/17
Exhibition Opening: 14/12/17 Duration: 15/12 /17 15/01/18
A description and critical reflection of live performance “Temple-boy” Published in cultural journal “Φιλgood” for newspaper “Phileleftheros” (10/12/17) According to the concept of live performance “Temple-boy”, the body becomes a component of an exhibitory/museological condition: it can participate in an exhibition’s formulation, not only as a visitor, but as a living exhibit. It should be noted that for the setting up of PASHIAS’ activities, the reception hall of Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation has been chosen, right under the room hosting the archeological collection of George and Nefeli Giabra Pierides. The creator, in a similar manner as in his earlier activity at Musée des Augustins in Toulouse (2014), attempts to abolish the rigid relation of a body with the museological environment, by contributing to the exhibitory framework and by participating directly in it. Focusing on the unsettling of the visitor/exhibit relation, he inscribes his presence in the provided space by unfolding a process of ‘appearing’ and of ‘being’: exhibiting himself and in continuation acting upon it, only to confirm Paul Valéry’s suggestion that “it is nothing more nor less than the action of the whole human body; but an action transposed into a world”. Having as an archetype the ‘servant to the museum’, a sitting limestone figurine (5th-4th century BC) of the Giabra collection, PASHIAS adopts a similar position. A position of being attentive, waiting, accepting, offering, but mainly a position of being exhibited. Holding in his hand a bunch of grapes, he develops a gesture that ‘undermines’ the body’s stillness. It is worth noting that the limestone figurines in question, usually hold spherical objects, a parameter that emphasizes their symbolic attributes. The representation of the Roman villa in Kato Paphos that showcases god Dionysus sitting opposite to the nymph Acme, holding a bunch of grapes, is directly related to the artist’s image in action. In a first impression, it could be noted as a gesture of offering, but this condition is quickly dismantled. PASHIAS devotes himself to a practice of self-offering, since he consumes the fruit in his hands. According to the action’s concept, the grapes, through the ‘digestive route’, are transformed into solid transparent spheres. It becomes obvious that the process of consumption reads as a cleansing practice. At this point, it’s worth mentioning the words of French academic Pierre Boyancé (1900-76), stating that the soul is cleansed (in a Dionysiac manner) when it is forced into symbolic ‘ejections’ or discharges. By revealing in continuation the clear spheres from the back of his body, PASHIAS throws them towards the visitor’s side, attempting to establish an imaginary yet binding line between himself and the audience. It could be noted as a state in which the creator adopts a mechanism of internalization, expulsion and projection of a ‘value’.
In continuation, the artist leaves the podium that he had occupied and approaches the visitors. He initiates a joint consumption of the red wine that had been offered to them before the action’s commencement. In some cases, he also removes the offered beverage, placing the glasses that contain it on the previously occupied basis. Here, the action’s ritualistic character expands into a conjunctive ‘communion’ that could be defined as the condition or parameter of a ‘relation’ in terms of manner, formulated as a synergy. He shares the glasses’ content with their holders. This communal experience (visual, gustatory, olfactory) confirms the conviction that the cosmic/artistic circumstance can only exist as an accumulation of relations between an individual and the ensemble. In a first impression, it could be noted as a gesture of offering, but this condition is quickly dismantled. PASHIAS devotes himself to a practice of self-offering, since he consumes the fruit in his hands. According to the action’s concept, the grapes, through the ‘digestive route’, are transformed into solid transparent spheres. It becomes obvious that the process of consumption reads as a cleansing practice. At this point, it’s worth mentioning the words of French academic Pierre Boyancé (1900-76), stating that the soul is cleansed (in a Dionysiac manner) when it is forced into symbolic ‘ejections’ or discharges. By revealing in continuation the clear spheres from the back of his body, PASHIAS throws them towards the visitor’s side, attempting to establish an imaginary yet binding line between himself and the audience. It could be noted as a state in which the creator adopts a mechanism of internalization, expulsion and projection of a ‘value’. In continuation, the artist leaves the podium that he had occupied and approaches the visitors. He initiates a joint consumption of the red wine that had been offered to them before the action’s commencement. In some cases, he also removes the offered beverage, placing the glasses that contain it on the previously occupied basis. Here, the action’s ritualistic character expands into a conjunctive ‘communion’ that could be defined as the condition or parameter of a ‘relation’ in terms of manner, formulated as a synergy. He shares the glasses’ content with their holders. This communal experience (visual, gustatory, olfactory) confirms the conviction that the cosmic/artistic circumstance can only exist as an accumulation of relations between an individual and the ensemble. The action is completed with a gesture of discoloration or purification - as Goethe would have said - of the red wine. PASHIAS - by pouring a chemical substance into the wine that is left in the remaining glasses - achieves its ‘whitening’. It can be noted as a typical ritual that signals the action’s ending, also read as a process of purification. In the end, the creator removes himself from the space - the body in action turns into itself - leaving behind an area of artistic ‘happening’ with obvious signs of action, but also new elements, able to re-constitute his initial thought. Dr. Savvas Christodoulides Visual Artist / Curator / Assistant Professor, Frederick University
Something Important Doesn’t Have to be Heavy Published in “Temple-boy” catalogue (12/17 - 01/18) Understanding the museum as a temple is a critically dangerous place to start writing about a new work of art, but PASHIAS’ work, “Temple-boy” at the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation has at its premise an ancient devotional sculpture, which is an artifact of the stony migration from temple to modern museum. His approach brings more attention to that trajectory, and modes of visiting and offering, than to any particular institution. Cypriot ‘temple boys’, situated chronologically in the 5th century BC until the middle of 4th century BC, are clay or limestone sculptures, with a specific set of characteristics: they are chubby, dull-eyed boy-babies on the cusp of becoming boys, and they sit in a half lotus pose, draped, holding (or leaning on) temple offerings. Their genitals are also offered up (oddly) on the inner surface of the left ankle, which is tucked underneath them. This last detail - about the acme of masculine vulnerability, displayed - is also the feature where these idiosyncratic Cypriot treasures can evince the fragile, transformative nature of performance art. Humor is essential here, and yet in “Temple-boy” the formal ideals that these sculptures embody parallel PASHIAS’ structured artistic research. That is, while an archaeologist may interpret a temple boy based on the semiotics of clothing style, cap, or hairdressing, the artist can go further. By taking on the sculptural idiom, PASHIAS enacts the gaps in meaning between offering and being offered, organic and abstract, dark and light. He reverses the Pygmalionic direction of stone-to-flesh by performatively undoing the structure of the votive sculpture, turning the timelessness expected of statuary into other, ephemeral images. An installation follows the performance. Or, as PASHIAS puts it, ‘there is a museum collection, a body passes through it, and then there is another situation’. The exhibition of “Temple-boy” elucidates something about entropy in live performance and it brings awareness to the battle against decay and forgetting that is in the archaeological drive to preserve the past. Entropy is in the artist’s willingness to let impulse override planned actions, also. And it is in the ancient urge to beg the divine for a little more order, a little more time. Elizabeth Hoak-Doering Visual Artist / Associate Professor, University of Nicosia
Embodying Materialities Published in “Temple-boy” catalogue, (12/17 - 01/18) Material culture should be seen as active and meaningfully constituted, and its meanings as governing everyday social relations, rather than passively reflecting them. Bourdieu tried to break dualisms such as nature : culture, social structure : individual agency, and individual : society, reminding us that humanity is physically embodied. Agency works through the body, and although embodiment is fundamental as a product of nature and a bearer of culture, it cannot be easily accommodated by these dualisms. The body is never mere corporeality, and thus it makes its appearance as expressive of social values, shared by participants, expressing power operating between people. Habitus is how people enter the world, staking a claim upon their place in the world, but also upon their identity. One should therefore consider how different bodies also experience and internalise power differently. Parameters, such as place on the social ladder, age and gender, would have shaped subjective experiences of material culture. Material things, therefore, are integral components of ourselves, intimately linked to our social lives, thus actively shaping people and social relations. The embodiment presented in PASHIAS’ live performance “Temple-boy” opens a new interpretative window in approaching the materiality of these extra-ordinary pieces of ancient ‘art’, the meaning of which remains open and ‘subject to subjectivity’. ‘Objects’, like people, have agency, or at least, material objects are given meaning within agency. The characteristics of objects are important but what manifests social power is the dialectic between people and ‘things’. By addressing the locus of the body as a material grounding for subjective experience, but also as the objectification of moral values and bodily ideas, PASHIAS opens a new (quite personal) but enlightening contemporary experiential interpretation of ancient Cypriot ‘temple-boys’. Dr. Giorgos Papantoniou Specialist on ancient Cypriot art, archaeology of Cypriot sanctuaries and religion / Universität Bonn
Biographical Note The practice of visual artist PASHIAS is grounded in the field of performance art, installation and photography, by establishing the artist’s body as the basic material for creation. His work aims at the exploration of a situation or ‘environment’, based upon the relationship of a unit towards an ensemble, in a similar manner that every social setting perceives a person, through the establishment of presence, exchange and co-existence. PASHIAS has presented work in solo exhibitions in Cyprus and Greece, as well as in group exhibitions, international festivals and conferences in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Russia, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Sweden, Bulgaria, Turkey and Brazil. More specifically, he has collaborated with cultural organizations, such as SESC São Paulo, Estonia Contemporary Art Museum, Mediterranean Biennale of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art, Athens School of Fine Arts and Institut Supérieur des Beaux Arts de Besançon. In 2013, PASHIAS co-founded the epitelesis - Performance Art Foundation as an international project for the support of cultural activities, has been working as an educator/lecturer through various academic programs and has been engaged in curating exhibitions and series of events on the relationship of live action to other artistic practices. More particularly, his curatorial approach to investigating the coexistence of contemporary forms of expression with a ‘direct’ version of the history of a place, has been initiated with the live performance “Déforestation #1” (2014), commissioned by the Toulouse International Festival of Contemporary Art. In collaboration with the Musée des Augustins and curators Mehdi Brit and Blanche De Lestrange, having as a central axis of creation the museum’s exhibitory context, the project evolves into a conversation with the sculpture “Philopeomen à Sellasie” (1829) by well-known French sculptor Bernard Lange. In the framework of educational project “Places of duration” (2015) by the international organization PAS - Performance Art Studies, PASHIAS collaborated with the Museum of Acropolis, attempting to incorporate participants in its exhibitory framework, where sculptural monumentality is explored as a dimension of ‘duration’ and physical endurance. In continuation, through the series of lectures entitled “NOW, performance art in Greece: from the ‘mythical’ to the ‘political’” (2016) that took place in the context of exhibition “As One” curated by Marina Abramović, Serge Le Borgne and Paula Garcia at the Benaki Museum in Athens, PASHIAS seeks to connect Greek mythology and the archaeological finds that attest to it, with the ‘moment’ of creating a second contemporary Greek myth – the myth of ‘crisis’, as vocabulary for artistic output. www.pashias.art
Photography Cover + Pages 4, 12 / Artworks included in exhibition “Temple-boy“ incorporating exhibits from the George and Nefeli Giabra Pierides Collection Page 3 / “Temple-boy“ figurine, George and Nefeli Giabra Pierides Collection Page 5 / Artist’s drawing included in exhibition “Temple-boy“ Pages 8 + 10 / Photographs from live performance “Temple-boy“ by K. Christodoulides Page 13 / Artwork included in exhibition “Temple-boy“ All rights reserved © Andreas Pashias 2018 / The content of this publication is solely intented for the viewing of the reciptient and may not be reproduced or published without the artist’s permission
Presenting a concept project on the relation of historical exhibits and contemporary creation, by focusing on ancient-Cypriot votive statues
Published on Feb 14, 2018
Presenting a concept project on the relation of historical exhibits and contemporary creation, by focusing on ancient-Cypriot votive statues