Old Olive Factory, Eleusis – Crossings: Crossing



September 2006 – July 2009

Old Olive Factory, Eleusis, Greece

Through the Crossings interdisciplinary art project that reached out to countries, institutions and the migrant within each one of us, Kalliopi Lemos wished to bring the issue of migration to the public’s attention. Pressing home the sensitive issue of illegal migration by using the actual boats that carried the illegal migrants in their crossings from East to West, Lemos created an unparalleled trilogy of installations, which conveyed universal values of solidarity while investigating crossings from country to country, from life to death and the potential of these crossings as a source of regeneration.

The simple, wooden, Turkish boats used by migrants still bear a palpable historical, emotional and conceptual freight that makes the work an ode to human suffering. The artist herself has come to see the boats as truly sacred objects. By treating the public space occupied by the boats as a stage for the tragedy of the human condition and for the historical dimension of the migration issue, Lemos was able to initiate a dialogue between the works, their particular sites and their viewers.

In this first public installation, the artist created an upright, 11 to 12 meters high structure of seven migrant boats was put together with all the vessels facing outwards in a circle, as if they were holding hands and showing their wounds to the world.

The work remained in this space from 2006 to 2009, when it was burnt down in a private funeral-like ritual that included a performance with the narration of Yiannis Ritsos’ poem ‘Persephone’ and fragments from TS Elliott’s ‘Four Quartets’.