These photographs have been taken on the island of Ruegen, a romantic topos par excellence. Riss #1 depicts the Colossus of Prora, the largest Third Reich building in existence. The gigantic Prora seaside resort was designed by Clemens Klotz and built between 1936 and 1939 as a Kraft durch Freude (KdF) project. (KdF –Kraft durch Freude, roughly translated, Strength Through Joy- was an important state-controlled organization in Nazi Germany that sought to provide cheap or free leisure activities for the working class.) The 4,5 km long Bauhaus looking building was designed to accommodate 20,000 vacationers. However, the war prevented the KDF from completing the project. The partly finished complex was used extensively for military purposes during the war and during the GDR (DDR) era.
Today the various parts of the building offer sublime modernistic ruins, a Documentation Center, a dance club, a privately owned cheap fantasmagoric museum, a café-restaurant and recently the biggest youth hostel in Germany.
Nevertheless, the fate of the "Colossus of Rügen," seems uncertain. Politicians, investors, historians and scientists have different views and interests. It seems that there is a breach in managing the memory.
The German word ‘Riss’ means ‘breach’. Riss is also the title of a very important psychoanalytic magazine that first appeared in 1985.
Riss # 1, 2011, KdF Prora Resort, Ruegen, Germany
archival inkjet print, 52 X 66 cm, edition of 3and 78 X 100 cm, edition of 3
Riss # 2, 2011, Ruegen, Germany
archival inkjet print, 52 X 66 cm, edition of 3, and 78 X 100 cm, edition of 3
23 February - 24 March 2012
Paradise on Earth
The photographs have all been taken in Ruegen, an island in the Balitic Sea.
Ruegen attracted me photographically as the romantic topos par excellence. It was the favorite place of German intellectuals, religious men and Romantic painters like C. D. Friedrich and P. O. Runge, who have painted here iconic Romantic landscapes. However, the reason I visited Ruegen for the first time in 2009 was to photograph for my “Leisure Time” series the so-called “Colossus of Prora” the 4,5 km long modernistic building that lies along the Prora bay. It was conceived by the Nazi “Kraft durch Freude” (Strength through Joy) organization for mass vacation by the sea (originally planned to accommodate 20000 Aryan vacationers). Because of its sensitive recent history and its size the building’s future uses remain still unclear though it already hosts a state documentation center, a private museum with a Viennese Cafe and recently the biggest youth hostel in Germany.
Apart from the historically charged views of Ruegen, what I also find of big aesthetic interest in Prora is the juxtaposition of vulnerable bodies to the brutality of this massive architectural Nazi artifact. As in Friedrich’s paintings the spectators who turn us their back function as a constant reminder that in this (natural as well as historical) spectacle we are only latecomers.
In this series of photographs I am investigating the typology of leisure time. I am interested in recording the open public spaces (parks, beaches for instance) that host or suggest leisure time. In this context I am interested in depicting the appearance of people in these spaces-areas, and in describing the concept of ‘absorption’ in the public realm. I am also trying to explore the obvious political connotations of this leisure-time geography.
This is an on-going project, which started in 2005.
Nine photographs of this series formed part of the "Heterotopias: Society Must Be Defended" exhibition which was curated by Jan-Eric Lundstroem in the framework of the 1st. Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art
Through this series of photographs taken in the London underground during the years 2000-2005, I explore the notion of 'absorption' in the public realm. This notion is in accordance with what Georg Simmel in 1908 described as the ‘blasé outlook’, which is the typical outlook that city people adopt, as a the consequence of an intensification of external sensual stimuli in the city.
In the subway we seem to ignore that we are being observed by other people. The presence of a photographer and a visible camera also seems to be ignored. However, on the same time I wonder whether we have to do with a kind of attitude similar to what Michael Fried described as “theatricality”. Whether by being conscious of our roles as 'subjects' to the gaze of others we pretend to be absorbed. My series includes photographs that show people who are aware that they are being photographed but still remain unresponsive and have a blank expression, as if they are looking inwardly. I did not use a hidden camera as other photographers did (starting with Walker Evans in New York subway in 1938 and most recently Luc Delahaye in Paris metro in 1999), as I was not after an 'objective' recording or ‘truth’. However, the result was similar to theirs.
In limbo, 120 images presented in 10 grids of 12 pictures each. Each picture is 32 x 38 cm, grid 180 x 105 cm. Lambda print mounted on aluminium. Edition of 3.
Part of this series (4 grids) was exhibited in a solo exhibition in Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Center, Athens (May 2001). 8 grids were presented in a solo exhibition in the House of Art in Bratislava (in the framework of the International Month of Photography in Bratislava, November 2003). 6 grids were exhibited in Blue Sky Gallery, Portland, Oregon, U.S.A. (September 2006) www.blueskygallery.org.
2 grids belong to the permanent collection of the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography.
3 grids belong to the Portland Art Museum, Oregon, USA.
in limbo I, in limbo II and in limbo VI participate in the exhibition "Flesh and Bone" at the Portland Art Museum, in Oregon, USA. Please visit the following websites http://www.portlandartmuseum.org/fleshbone and http://www.portlandart.net/archives/2012/10/flesh_bone_at_p.html.
This series by Eleni Mouzakiti explores the concept of the grid. Repetitive elements characterised by geometrical regularity compose spaces, which, although inhabited look two-dimensional. We tend to organise a living space based on repetition. Repetition offers security, makes one fell at home. These photographs try to offer this same feeling by isolating parts of the urban space. The presentation of the works conveys a similar structure. The framing (parergon) repeats the framed reality (ergon). This is the main feature of the grid as it was formulated by American art criticism during the 60’s and the 70’s. Both Michael Fried and Rosalind Krauss, although in disagreement about the evaluation of this so common artistic structure , acknowledge the fact that the structure of the grid implies the work’s continuation into the world (beyond the frame). Michael Fried notoriously condemned this tendency criticising it as “theatricality”. Mouzakiti’s boxes do look like little stages that convert reality into a scene. Krauss traced the roots of the grid back to the bedrock of the avant-garde. She perceived in these structures the ambition of the avant-garde to reorganise the world according to a new spiritual order. Behind the geometrical purity of the grid lies a deep ambiguity. Grid is an obsession. Obsessions resist rationalisation.