Interview: Evi Stamou

interview evi stamou
Image courtesy of Evi Stamou

Interview: Evi Stamou

Luca Curci talks with artist Evi Stamou during LIQUID ROOMS – THE LABYRINTH exhibition in Venice.
Evi Stamou was born at Patras (Greece) in 1985. She graduated from Patra’s Conservatory in 1999 and worked as a musician and music teacher until 2009. She graduated from Athens University of Economics and Business in 2007. She has received numerous awards in both Greek and International poetry competitions and she is a published poet with contributions to many literary magazines and newspapers.

interview evi stamou Image courtesy of Evi Stamou

She graduated from the Hellenic Cinema and Television School Stavrakos in 2013 and her graduation film was selected in the Experimental section of the 35th Cinemed Film Festival of Montpellier. She currently lives and works in Athens, as a film director, sound recordist for film productions and video artist. In addition to her main cinematic projects, she is interested in studying a broader approach to the nature of the moving image, collaborating, to that effect, with artists from various fields (musicians, actors, painters, architects).

interview evi stamouImage courtesy of Evi Stamou

Luca Curci – Your work has just been exhibited during LIQUID ROOMS – THE LABYRINTH exhibition in Venice: can you talk about your personal experience in Venice with International ArtExpo? How was your experience with the organization, the staff, the venue and all the artists involved?

Evi Stamou – Venice is a city full of art and history and there is always an interesting exhibition to attend. Liquid Rooms – The Labyrinth took place in unique venues: Palazzo Ca’ Zanardi is a work of art in itself. Every one of its rooms was each time, I crossed the threshold, a new discovery, since it could be an exhibition room, a performance or installation space, or the studio of an artist in residency open to the public, full of finished and unfinished works. Organization and staff did a great job choosing and placing artworks covering all the different aspects of the exhibitions’ themes.

interview evi stamouImage courtesy of Evi Stamou

L. C. – Which was the moment you preferred most during the two openings?

E. S. – The opening in Venice Art House Gallery gave me the great opportunity to admire many beautiful performances. During one of them, the pitch-black room was lit only by little flashlights, handed by the performers to members of the public. The artists had to step into the tiny spotlights and improvise a dance, following the suggestions the spectators gave them by varying at their will the motion of the beam. It was a very powerful and moving image. At the opening in Ca’ Zanardi I was there very early, entering its beautiful garden in the late afternoon. I witnessed, in that quiet atmosphere, the arrival of the first visitors, which then started spreading in the rooms, admiring the artworks and performances, exploring every corner in the building. The way in which the old silent Palazzo had suddenly come to life, buzzing with talks and discussions, made me feel really lucky to be one of its guests.

interview evi stamouImage courtesy of Evi Stamou

L. C. – Can you talk about the artwork you presented in Venice? How is it linked with the festival’s theme?

E. S. – “A Prelude to Peer Gynt” is a journey in the inner labyrinth of identity; it is an attempt to revive the faded images of adolescence, a search for primordial memories. It originated from my collaboration in staging an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s play ‘Peer Gynt’, produced by the Greek avant-garde acting company ‘3rd person theatre group’, (A. Frida, E. Zarafidou and B. Fragou). The original work that inspired us places the title character inside a chaotic and fragmented universe, made up of antithetical notions and irreconcilable values. To work his way out of the contradictions of his world and find the solution to the maze, Peer Gynt has to rebuild his identity, collecting the traces of himself he has left behind.

interview evi stamouImage courtesy of Evi Stamou

L. C. – What are you currently working on?

E. S. – I work on various projects that are currently in different stages of production. I usually collect images using different mediums (digital cameras, mobile phones, mini dv cameras) which I then gradually edit. Right now I am finishing the first part of a series of video-portraits, inspired by artists I work and I am planning to edit a short experimental documentary about Lake Geneva. In my plans there is also the further development of the themes and techniques hinted in “A Prelude to Peer Gynt”, making a work or series of works that would deal more extensively with the original play as a whole.

interview evi stamouImage courtesy of Evi Stamou

L. C. – What is art for you?

E. S. – I love the most practical, almost menial aspects of what I do. I like having to master the erratic behavior of the unpredictable little sensors in consumer camcorders or having to react to the constant surprise caused by restless, ever-changing details in an untamable subject matter. Through my works I try to unravel the true nature of the space I find myself in at the time of the shooting and I rarely know the exact outcome of the video, which is more a result of improvisation. This lack of predisposition in executing carefully planned out designs and in following general and abstract principles has forced me to bring out my natural sympathy for the small scale in its every aspect: in the means of duration, content, subject and production.

interview evi stamou Image courtesy of Evi Stamou

My videos can refer to a single moment, an instance that in reality lasts only a few seconds, a thought. Every work is initially created to be addressed to one particular person, or to a small group of people, functioning as a letter, a note or a poem, and it is usually realized by a very small crew. More than a necessity to express myself, art is my chosen method to explore the reality surrounding me. I would like to think of my works as consisting of images that no one seems to properly notice, of images that are usually relegated to the background or to a subordinate role, despite the fact that they constitute the core of the only world we can ever aspire to know.

interview evi stamouImage courtesy of Evi Stamou

L. C. – What do you think about International ArtExpo organization?

E. S. – “Liquid Rooms + The Labyrinth” was the first art exhibition which I participated; my works were previously screened at experimental and video art sections of film festivals. Being something so new and different for me, I really appreciated the support, the staff of International ArtExpo  kindly gave me by walking me throughout the entire process of the exhibition, from the selection to the presentation of my work. They still keep me informed about their upcoming events, giving me the opportunity to present my videos in various exhibitions taking place in galleries and venues of different cities around the world and they are open to suggestions, looking for new ideas and offering engaging propositions of future collaborations.

interview evi stamouImage courtesy of Evi Stamou

L. C. – Do you think International ArtExpo organization can represent an opportunity for artists?

E. S. – Exhibitions organized by International ArtExpo throughout the years include the artists’ most recent works, giving them the chance to reach the public and art professionals shortly after they are completed. Being part of a global network each one of these exhibitions creates a great opportunity, especially for young artists or artists who, like me, come from countries where the production and promotion of video art and experimental cinema is facing many little or even more serious obstacles, to present their work in a big international art community and get exposed to different stimulus that interaction with different artists from all over the world provides.

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