Interview: Alexandra Petranaki
Luca Curci talks with Alexandra Petranaki during CONTEMPORARY VENICE 2019 at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
After studying Pedagogy and Radio-Technology she studied painting at the Athens School of Fine Arts. She graduated in 2015, first in her year, as also in 2018 from her two-year postgraduate Master of Fine Arts degree. She focuses her work mainly on the creation of multi-sensory installations. Characteristics of her works are the exploration of philosophical thought, archive art as well as problems about the incomprehensible memories, gendered identity, stereotypes, black/dark and its feelings. She has made 5 individual presentations and has participated in more than 40 group exhibitions and events in Greece and abroad such as Biennale “Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space” 2015, Biennale “Athens 2015”, “Art Athena 2015” 2015, Documenta14th/2017/«Open Studio 2017» ΑΣΚΤ/ΜΕΤ, “Art Thessaloniki 2018” 2018, 59o Thessaloniki International Film Festival 2018 – Contemporary Art Center of Thessaloniki by Curator Orestis Andreadakis 2018, “Platforms Project 2019” 2019.
Luca Curci – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
Alexandra Petranaki – The factors that had a catalytic effect on my work were two. On the one hand the prolonged financial crisis in Greece which led to poverty and affected most Greeks made me think and live the parameters of the human condition and psychology I had never thought of before. On the other hand my studies, with a humanistic and philosophical content, as well as the study of artworks, in both the Graduate School of Fine Arts and Postgraduate Visual Arts, changed the way I used to think although I was very experienced in different jobs and studies, moving my socio-political look closer to the fellow.
LC – What is art for you?
AP – Art is my way to express and think beyond regulatory logic. It is a free and human way that makes me a better person. It is the artistic reflection that can communicate and demonstrate, through emotional engagement, nationwide and all human problems and inequalities.
LC – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?
AP – It is not just one. Nevertheless, mainly concepts such as empathy, social inequality, diversity and death, have been concerned and concerned me through my life and my work.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
AP – The hardest part is often to figure out how I wish to convey my point. Afterwards, because I mainly deal with large scale installations, my difficult but extremely interesting part is to achieve cooperation with various professional groups, who will lend me ready made materials of their work, which I will transfer, often with their help, and I’ll incorporate them into my work.
LC – Which is the role the artist plays in the society? And the contemporary art?
AP – The artist, through the recovery of his individual trauma, often manages to envisage the Other’s request and often the forgotten Other’s. Human relations are not regulated by a single law throughout the earth. An important part of modern art, of contemporary artistic reflection, can, and is increasingly trying, to recall where (?), when (?), how (?) the law and social stereotypes serve the interests of the powerful, forgetting the man himself and the universal values. I believe that modern artistic expression enhances greatly the notion of collectivity and solidarity.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this festival? In which way did it inspire you?
AP – At the beginning of this festival its international orientation is important in the idea of this festival and its charitable initiative. A collective exhibition with artists from all over the world exhibit in a city with a strong artistic multicultural image and their voice is spreading everywhere with a thematic context on contemporary social and environmental problems. It looks wonderful.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the festival’s theme?
AP – In my work “Humanity nuggets” (the term “humanity nuggets” is attributed to the philosopher Hannah Arendt) I quote a blood donation file and objects of an old custom, as well as the blood which is our original common ingredient, thinking about the brotherhood and global solidarity which I have recorded on a sound that is heard in the art installation. «In the old days, the very good friends carving their hands and drinking their blood from the special cup (tassi), following the custom of twinning/cross brothers, which we encounter in all the Balkans. Thinking of the love and brotherhood of the custom, which is above racism and differences, I rephrase it on our days, referring to the blood donation act, which makes us, from this perspective, world siblings». That is, my work focuses on blood donation and an old custom, the twinning, which was an action of everyday simple people. They are actions which history leaves out of importance. As the French philosopher George Didi-Huberman might say, perhaps, they are actions that are like little fireflies which disappear in the lights of the big headlamps, but they never cease to exist. Just change your viewpoint to see them… They are anti-heroic acts, historically despised but so essential. They are actually “nuggets of humanity” that can bridge worlds within the multicultural modern societies of the big cities and determine the identity of the individual within the collective consciousness in a simple optimistic way.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
AP – Definitely, yes. The opportunity to communicate your work with such consistent, tireless partners is a pleasure.
LC – Would you suggest a collaboration with us? What do you think about our services?
AP – I think so, because I find it important that the organization and response of the members of ItsLiquit are done responsibly and seriously, as well as the selection of projects.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
AP – Yes, I believe and wish it. As I also believe that it can and should increasingly support artists and continue with humanitarian and environmental concerns to become a strong coherent social link at international level.