Handbook of the Spontaneous Other



Publisher: MACK

text by: Matteo Cremonesi


With Handbook of the Spontaneous Other, greek artist Aikaterini Gegisian experiences through an intelligent rielaboration of images found in Western Europe and United States between 60s and 70s, the possibility of a semantic repositioning of those narrative – visual signs and codes that accompany and edify western culture and popular identity.
Reasoning around a living, iconic, codified, disciplining material, Aikaterini Gegisian develops an interpretative and organizational system of the material itself that, right through the ludic combination and association of the same visual elements, actualizes a perspective or narrative revision that opens to the sense of the images itself.
An overturning of sense and its logic, as well as of the postures of the narration, that see the observer called to accomplish a work of reapropriation and hierarchical reorganization of the elements of the narrative – identity experience.
A positioning and recounting which make of the ability to represent and identify oneself the theme of a questioning that does not avoid, despite its playfullness, the intercepting of the critical tangles of a discussion involving all contemporary western culture.

Through the composition of a serie of 59 collages that combine images taken from pornografic and naturalistic magazines and turistic catalogues, greek author hugs, comprehends, critifies, retake and reorganises the iconic impressions of a identity european panorama that has done of the Other the esotic and erotic subject of a colonising gaze, in which every element of the cognitive experience is mentioned and recognizable inside a hierarchic organisation.
Rethinking things in a formal relation able to renew and move the impression and the understanding of elements in a cultural panorama, Aikaterini Gegisian carries out an elegant and ironic work which, in the attempt of experiencing for the images itself a new perspective paradigm, finds itself able to discuss and redecline both the impression produced from them and the axioms borning from them.
Divided into nine chapters that follow a narration sensitive to the colour and the subjects themselves, Aikaterini Gegisian’s book tries to locate and materialize a “Other” gaze on things and images. An otherness that sees in the spontaneity the crux of her praxis itself that exclude exoticism and invite the look to a spontaneous participation and narration of the panorama – world.

Aikaterini Gegisian (b. Thessaloniki, Greece) is a visual artist of Greek-Armenian heritage that lives and works between the UK and Greece. Investigating, assembling and deconstructing archives of popular culture, she has developed a rigorous research-based practice, that examines the role of images in the production of national and cultural identities. Working across video, photography, installation and collage her work utilises a variety of audio and visual material, ranging from found images, location footage, archival and popular films. After a period of questioning the image as a historical document, her recent work marks a formal and conceptual shift towards gender identities, the sculptural qualities of photographic images and the photobook form.

Gegisian received a BA (Hons) in Critical Fine Art Practice by the University of Brighton (2001), an MA in Fine Art by Chelsea College of Art and Design (2005) and a PhD by Practice by the University of Westminster (2014). In 2019, she was an International Fellow in Art and Theory at Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen (Austria) and in 2018 a British Kluge Research Fellow, at the Library of Congress (US), where she developed the ambitious archival project, Third Person (Plural), produced with the support of Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK and Arts Council England. In 2015, she was one of the exhibiting artists at the Armenian Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennale, which received the Golden Lion for best national participation. She has been awarded the Nagoya University Award in 2001, and she was shortlisted for the First Book Award in 2015. In 2016, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art organised the first survey of her moving image practice.

Her work was presented at recent survey exhibitions including the 8th Brighton Photo Biennale, UK; 6th Moscow Biennale, Russia; 3rd Mardin Biennal, Turkey; 2nd Tallin Photomonth, Estonia; 1st Thessaloniki Biennale, Greece and 6th Gyumri Biennale, Armenia. Her work has been shown in museums, galleries and in festivals internationally including The Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, Valencia; the Whitworth, Manchester; Beirut Art Center, Beirut; Kunsthalle Osnabruck, Germany; DEPO, Istanbul; BALTIC, Newcastle; Calvert 22 Foundation, London; Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre, Athens; National Arts Museum of China, Beijing; Centre for Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki; Spike Island Gallery, Bristol; Kasseler Dok Fest, Kassel, Germany; Oberhausen Film Festival, Germany among others. Works of the artist are included in prominent private and museum collections.

Copyright © Aikaterini Gegisian, MACK and PHROOM, all rights reserved

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