The man who saw by Elias Maglinis*
Men are foolish enough to claim, especially during their military service, that “all women are whores, except for their mother”– when the truth is that their mother is the greatest whore of all. All the other women, who are called upon to play the role of lover, partner or wife, are innocent babies compared to a mother and her crushing guilt. Yet what men want of these other women, whether for one night or for a lifetime, is to personify the guilt instilled in them by their mother; it is to these women that they want to make love so violently that they’ll scream just like their mother screamed when she was giving birth to them. Men want this scream of labouring to survive at all costs. Women probably don’t need this guilt, perhaps because they can pay back their debt by giving birth themselves. Perhaps; Kostis cannot answer this with any certainty. He is a man, and believes he only has answers for men. For the men who never cease to believe –even if they won’t admit this, not even to themselves– that they are born again through mating with a girl they loved or simply fancied. And women know this all too well – Kostis is sure of that. This is women’s great weapon, and men’s only fulfilment.
The random thoughts of Kostis, the young hero of an unpublished short-story in progress.
The story goes like this: Kostis works in his father’s a business, an underground multi-storey car park with regular customers among whom there are women who work in the area. Some of these women leave their whole set of keys in the car every morning – not just their car keys but also those to their house. Kostis makes copies of the keys, checks how long they stay at work and breaks into the homes of those women who live alone.
He knows when to go and when to leave, without ever leaving any trace behind. He lies in their bed; washes in their bathroom; cleans his teeth with their toothbrush; comes in their unused sanitary napkins; waters their plants and feeds their pets; leafs through personal diaries, reads their secrets and copies excerpts into his own notebook; digs out family albums; opens drawers and steals their underwear; discovers sexual aids, suicide letters that came to nothing; saucy, desperate or angry letters from men and fathers, and even more agonising, creased and half-torn letters to and from mothers; and, of course, he opens their wardrobes, takes pictures of the hanging dresses, smells their body in their shirts and blouses. Back to his house he adds to the ‘files’ of his subjects. Now, after years of tormenting insomnia, he enjoys a deep, serene, vitamin-rich sleep. Without dreams.
Don’t ask me what happens next – I don’t know it myself, even though I am the author of the story. For the moment, I content myself with the attraction of the indiscreet, even violent gaze into the private world of women. Now, the irony is that I felt a little like Kostis as I watched Marigo drawing, devising, reconstructing similar female worlds the way they can be revealed, in a diffractive or even a distorted way, by the inside of their wardrobes.
As I saw in her studio only some of these elegant little works which make up baby-universes, and listened to fragments of women’s thoughts, confessions, memories, dreams and nightmares that Marigo collected like a writer –although she is an artist of images at all other times– I thought that she had beaten Kostis to it and done his ‘dirty work’ before him. This is not good news for Kostis and his insomnia – but it is good for Marigo.
I have been following the work of Marigo for years, her paintings and above all her installations. The ‘little dresses’, the shadows of little girls running somewhere in time and getting lost as they play, crying and haunting our memories. I have followed also her input into the very interesting collective (‘female’) work of “Indoors”. I am thinking that it is as if all that prepared me for this new project, which contains a powerful element of surprise. And the surprise here comes mainly from the fact that in this series of so common yet also autonomous, unique installations Marigo turns the wholly familiar into something unfamiliar.
Indeed, what could be more familiar, more commonplace than a wardrobe? And yet what happens here is a crucial, effective reversal: we slide into the realm of the alien, and what we see is no longer the photograph but the negative; we cross to the other side of the mirror into a twilight zone. The English saying about ‘skeletons in the closet’ is not without significance. Here we have a similar thing – but don’t you worry too much, because the fantasies of Marigo are not inhabited solely by sinister skeletons. First of all, there is some discreet, subtle humour – this “child of melancholy”, as Zacharias Papantoniou once described humour. Then there is also a certain aura of nostalgia, but never of facile reminiscing. Above all, however, I think we are talking about deliberately ambiguous situations that arise from a charged subconscious: the subconscious of the artist herself, and that of the voices we can hear as we peer inside those wardrobes. Only I don’t know what came first: there are times when the scattered, fragmentary narratives produce an image, while elsewhere the image comes first to comment, to complement speech. Then again, it may not matter too much. This may well be one of the most interesting aspects of this exhibition.
Elias Maglinis was born in 1970 in Kinshasa of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He works as an art editor in Kathimerini newspaper. He has published short-stories in various journals and periodicals. His first book “Soma me soma” was published in 2005 and his second book the novella “The interrogation” was published in 2008.
The other side of reality
By Maria Maragkou
The visitor encounters 17 dollhouse wardrobes miniatures of a real dark wardrobe with a mirror on the outside and a door on hinges that closes and leaves its user alone with his most intimate or alien “being”, that is himself.
The half-lit interior holds different contents. Marigo Kassi creates an exhibition with 17 different paintings-constructions in identical minute wardrobes, a piece of handcraft by means of a secret.
In a nutshell, she identifies her work with an equivalent story together with visual action dealing with the topics of trust, confession and sharing.
Why a wardrobe?
The wardrobe is the most intimate object. We approach it naked and through its content we create our daily image choosing the façade we wish, or we just cover our needs of dressing up.
The wardrobe is also a hiding place. Let us not forget our childhood years with the hidden cookies in grandma’s wardrobe, but also the secret world we would build in it. A nest, a surprise, the preparation for action. Finally the wardrobe can be a place of guilt for adults, a symbolic confession room resulting to relief or even penance.
Marigo Kassi reaches the idea of processing confession after having covered a long distance in painting and constructing, having worked both with the big painting frame as well as the minute hand-made paper dress. As I see it what has led and added special importance to her current work must have been her collaboration with Valy Nomidou, Spyridoula Politi and Mary Hristea, in “Indoors” where they all worked together for the creation of a work in a flat, sharing confessions, actions and even their lives.
Each confessing woman lights up that very moment an unknown until then part of her. The artist adopts the method of the former artists, magicians – doctors, as she takes up responsibility and binds herself to palliate it through a way of revelation, a way that remains secret for the rest of the world.
The visitor can see images hidden behind the door of the wardrobe, which holds all the secrets. The interior offers a living-room, a dining-room, gardens, tombs, suitcases, faces, staircases, lights, even talks during a family gathering.
It’s a kind of miniature familiar to Kassi from her past, all organized with Japanese and other hand-made paper, threads, wire, silk ribbons, oil-paintings, clay, watercolors, Perspex, photographs and even Swarovski crystals, sound and light.
A complete environment of a closed room, where narration has gone by with its traces still remaining, comprising the raw material for any further story the visitor is ready to invent.
The whole exhibition has the structure of a narration without it revealing its secret, allowing thus to each one of us to proceed with one’s own revelation or the creation of a second secret.
The pictorial presence is reinforced by the idea, which remains tender, sensitive and lambent even if its semantics is that of death.
Art can and has the right to interfere in life and change it to the better, activating a process of catharsis.
In such a good time for her Marigo Kassi becomes an auricular witness without denouncing, judging or advising. She draws ideas from this idiomorphic reality, where lives participate, in a factuality that can afford only a few viewers and can heal wounds in a correlation between confessor and confessant. Preparing these Lilliputian rooms, she managed to introduce her course of life in art recruiting images she once had used and making references to the history of art since the surrealism of a secret is expressed through flying chairs in a constructivistic environment. Keeping the secrets confessed to her, she makes a breakthrough in her work insisting on keeping only the most essential parts.
PS.: What appears to be very interesting is the text accompanying her catalogue. It’s an extract from an unpublished story of Helias Magklinis which is still in progress. It’s the story of a car-park attendant who makes copies of all the keys from the key rings working women give him, and then goes into their houses while they are away. He knows when to go and when to make off. Leaving no traces he lies in their beds, opens their wardrobes, uses their bathrooms, waters their plants, feeds their animals, reads their letters and diaries and looks into their photo albums. When he goes back to his place, he enriches the file of each woman and then goes to sleep calmly.
In my opinion the disordered extract constitutes organic part of Marigo Kassi’s exhibition.*