Neon Organization Greece presents, Echoes of Silence at ReMap4 which will bring together a collection of works that, in their own way, illustrate how domesticity and the home shape our individual and collective identities. The French philosopher Gaston Bachelard once described houses as “shelters for daydreaming.” Domestic spaces in the literary imagination swerve between the extremes of Bachelards’s safe places for poetic reveries on the one hand and the darker psychologically uncanny “haunted” spaces on the other. Taking its title from Rosemarie Trockel’s fairy tale-like ceramic mirror, Echoes of Silence invites the viewer to revisit their notions of domesticity both in conscious and unconscious manifestations.
In this home we see an absurd and at times pathetically dysfunctional family coming together in the form of a menacing pater familias in the shape of a punching bag dummy in Juan Muñoz's 1994 sculpture Untitled, as well as a mother who has emerged straight out of the sensationalist British tabloids in Sarah Lucas’s Fat, Forty, and Fabulous. Hiding a knife behind its back, Muñoz’s figure speaks to a kind of desolate des peration and despair while Lucas’s rotund maternal figure evokes the Dionysian excess of a culture built upon the promise of instant gratification.
Together they form a dark portrait of the unconscious of the prototypical Western family. Their adolescent child broods in the basement of the house in the form of the animated manga character Annlee whom the artist Pierre Huyghe imbues with the digitized voice of the astronaut Neil Armstrong as she recites passages from Jules Vergne’s exploration fantasy Journey to the Center of the Earth. Raising existential questions about the character of our personal identities Annlee speaks to our own uncertainty about who we are and how we tell stories about ourselves in order to negotiate the world around us.
In Joseph Beuys’s Felt Suit or Hans Bellmer’s La demi-Poupée, we see this narrative developed further as opposing images of the body as channeled into the “proper” bourgeois form of a business suit on the one hand, or the wild, unconscious, or even science fiction fantasy of a completely mal leable bodily form on the other.
Using a different strategy, the Swiss duo Peter Fischli and David Weiss question our domestic environment with the wonder of a daydream as they present us with an uncanny replication of everyday objects from the domestic world around us, in this case construction materials, magically rendered out of carved polystyrene. In the end, Rosemarie Trockel’s messy and almost volcanic polished mirror throws our reflected identities back at us by invoking the foundational cultural narcis - sism of the contemporary world as embodied in the Greek myth of Echo and Narcissus. In a world in which the historical narrative of domestic harmony is as much a mythical creatio n as any piece of fiction, these artists ask us to think about the way in which our identities are constructed and manufactured. In the end, we are the makers of our own collective destinies despite the narcissistic pressures exerted on us by images of the happy nuclear family that are constantly broadcast by the consumer culture that surrounds us.
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- Nikos Kessanlis, Untitled (Gesture), 1961, Readymade object, tissue, wire, 200 x 21 cm, © Nikos Kessanlis, Courtesy Alpha Delta Gallery, Photo: Nikos Markou
- Louise Bourgeois, The Birth, 2007, Gouache on paper, 59.7 x 45.7 cm, Photo: Christopher Burke, © The Easton Foundation / Licensed by Vaga
- Juan Muñoz, Untitled, 1994, Resin, polyester and stainless steel knife, 25 x 59 x 53cm, © Juan Muñoz