Excerpt from Kalliopi Lemos’ “Wasps & Jewels”, 2023
The new animated video by Kalliopi Lemos, titled “Wasps and Jewels”, uses the artist’s steel sculptures, drawings and digital photographs to create a mesmerising experience for the viewer. Here, Lemos uses the symbol of Wasps as a metaphor to discuss all these aggressive and threatening elements that we might encounter in life and should not ignore them. Through this unusual choreography between wasps and jewels, the artist encourages us to meet the unpleasant experiences with courage and respect and to contrast them with the beautiful things that life can offer.
Excerpt from Kalliopi Lemos’ “Something is Brewing in the Pond”, 2023
With her new film “Something is Brewing in the Pond”, Kalliopi Lemos actualizes Ritual Garments’ inherent ceremonial performativity while at the same time pointing to the primeval notion of circular time. As the anthropologist, Claude Levi Strauss wrote in his book Wild Thought, for the primordial societies time was considered circular and not linear, and rituals symbolized this infinitive repetition. In Lemos’ film, humankind’s common spiritual needs and time’s circularity are embedded in her empathetic Ritual Garments. Dressed into them, contemporary people and their everyday actions intersect with their ancestors’ ceremonies as well as with their co-humans all over the world. Following the natural circles of the sun, the interchange of days, seasons, and generations and through the flow of life itself, Kalliopi Lemos praises the unstoppable seeking of healing, comfort, and salvation within the nature’s divinity and within togetherness, throughout our troubling times and throughout eternity.
Excerpt from Kalliopi Lemos’ and Nancy Atakan’s film Necklace of Time, 2020.
The collaborative film of Kalliopi Lemos and Nancy Atakan unfolds as a poetic and intense rite of passage that takes place in a mysterious environment, a derelict mansion surrounded by luscious forest. Wearing magnificent but heavy necklaces, the artists engage in a ritual to replace sumptuous jewels with delicately embroidered words that represent their lived experiences, their personal stories, and precious memories as the concept of beauty attains a subjective spiritual rather than stereotyped meaning. The powerful vision of an urgent emancipatory change emerges when both artists pass to the future generations the eternal symbol of woman-mother. Considering the practice of collaboration, a revolutionary feminine act of collective creation, “Necklace of Time” becomes a platform for feminist thought.
Excerpt from Kalliopi Lemos’ film Bound, 2019.
The film “Bound” by Kalliopi Lemos is an exploration of our internal boundaries, the ones we set for ourselves and limit our freedom. The artist uses the same linen bandages that were introduced in 2018 in her solo show at Gazelli Art House, London titled “All is to be Dared”. These bandages, woven with fragments of Sappho’s poems, become the main feature of the film, as they are the enabler element that triggers the story between four people, one actress and three actors. The performance of the actors is enhanced with excerpts from the books “A lover’s discourse” by Roland Barthes and “Eros the Bittersweet” by Anne Carson. As Kalliopi Lemos observes, we have all adopted a certain way to feel, to think, to act and react in our everyday lives. These bandages represent ideas and values that we embrace in life and sometimes become our own prisons.
Excerpt from Kalliopi Lemos’ film The Cube, 2018.
“The other self” by art critic Gelly Gryntaki
In her short film The Cube (2018) Kalliopi Lemos poses a psychanalytical jigsaw in the form of a Kafkian tale. As in most of her works, the artist here handles issues as the existential anxiety, the imperative pursuit of an inner balance, the split self and the conflict between private and public, through the construction of mythical or dream worlds produced by specific sculptural installations of hers. Following the problematics of At the Center of the World (2015) and Irrevocable Transformations (2016), the film watches the protagonist trapped in a claustrophobic non-place, a heavy steel minimalistic cube. Locked in his semi- dark world, the hero decides to open up his self/cage only when he realises that he’s not alone: A mysterious person with the same face is wandering outside the cube. The narrative thus becomes a stressful “hide and seek” between internal and external reality, personal drives and outside boundaries, the Freudian id versus the bodily ego. A procedure that is fearsome and tense but creative and utterly transformative as well. If D.W. Winnicott attributes the “intermediate area of experience to which inner reality and external life both contribute” to creativity, then the “opening” of the cube turns out to be the artistic process itself, a transitional sphere within which the inner self dares to be exposed to the outside world. Even though finally, he chooses to return to his essential aloneness.
Excerpt from Kalliopi Lemos’ film Irrevocable Transformations, 2016.
The video work of Kalliopi Lemos, “Irrevocable Transformations” represents the willful intention of the artist to interfere into the complications of comprehending the ongoing obscurity of the war, terror and the endless misery of people doomed to live within this crisis. In addition to her work series exploiting the ambiguous journeys of refugees and immigrants through the installations of abandoned boats realised in Greece, Turkey, Berlin and France since 2006, she showcases another metaphor, which is a figurative and audio-visual mode of representation of the human psychology within the existing conditions. The central figure in the video is a man, performed by Paolo Musio, a gifted Italian actor, balancing or surviving on a dangerously disposed platform. The iron platform moving circularly is a metaphor for the insecurity we feel between hope and despair.
Excerpt from Kalliopi Lemos’ film At the Center of the World, 2015.
Winner of the Borusan Contemporary Art Collection Prize.
In this body of work, Kalliopi Lemos examines ‘the anguished effort for balance and internal freedom’ as it is represented through a short film that captures the effort for balance and control of a woman closed in an iron sphere. In a world where many desire to excel, to be ‘at the centre of the world’, what is the price that they must pay? How did the woman find herself in that sphere? Was that a choice? Marilena Zaroulia (Senior Lecturer in Drama, Department of Performing Arts, The University of Winchester) underlines: ‘A figure trapped in an iron sphere; a woman, literally and metaphorically the source of life, sits in the ‘centre of the world.’ She attempts to balance – to no avail.’
Excerpt from Kalliopi Lemos’ film Incidental Revelations, 2013.
In Kalliopi Lemos’ film “Incidental Revelations” we stand before a tripartite mystery and the eternal activity of the soul. It is heralded for us by a secretive annunciation, as otherworldly bees murmur of a realty beyond rational comprehension. Bees instinctively know the source of life, and point to its sweet and transformative nature, as we make our way on our destined path. We must all descend, as it is the law of Life that we must seek out our ancestral source, in order to be reborn.
Documentation of the cremation of the installation Crossing – Eleusis, Greece (2006-2009)
The artist erected in Eleusis, Greece in 2006, an installation consisting of seven large and badly damaged boats, that had been used by migrants to transport themselves from the coast of Turkey to the Greek islands. All of them standing upright and leaning against one another, like surrealist figures huddling together to mitigate their agony. Each boat is a metaphor of a human presence. The exposed wooden ribs of the hulls bring to mind bodies with their skeletons exposed. The artist painted the interior of the boats with beeswax as an act of healing and purification.
“I wanted them to stand like human beings, bearing their wounds for everyone to see, making a declaration of a tragedy.”
In the performance of the cremation, to release the boats from their environment and mark the completion of their life cycle, three years after their installation, Lemos invited six friends and including herself, making one for each boat, recited Yannis Ritsos’s text of “Persephone” and excerpts from T.S. Eliot’s “4 Quartets”, to bid farewell to the boats and to wish them a good journey to beyond and a future return.