17.06.2021 – 02.10.2021
On Thursday, June 17th, from 12:00 to 21:00, Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Center presents Michalis Zacharias’ second solo show, titled Authentically Appealing.
The exhibition will run until October 02nd 2021.
“There is a photograph that was taken near the Kremlin in the summer of 1918. Four men sit in a Model T Ford. The man at the wheel is Gustav Klucis*. At far left is Karl Ioganson. Both were members of a contingent of Latvian machine gunners assigned to guard duty in Moscow shortly after the Revolution. Both were also modernist artists. The automobile in which they pose belonged to Lenin himself.
I begin with this calamitous trajectory because it says something about the avant-garde in general. What was it, anyway? The parable of the Constructivists in Lenin’s car suggests that it was a certain proximity to revolution: not to the idea of revolution, but revolution as a concrete reality. And it suggests that the destiny of the avant-garde was tied to revolution’s failure.”
Daniel Spaulding, “Value-form and Avant-Garde”, March 2014
The new series of works by Michalis Zacharias is inspired by the relationship between avant-garde and politics through imaginative scenarios of invalidating both the modernist spirit and the political utopia. The works are narratives of pseudo-events, which are “designed” in order to give either a cynical, or an ironic, or a reconstructive dimension of real events. Avant-garde propaganda machines, postmodern constructions-caricatures of agitprop aesthetics, photomontages referring to Eastern Bloc monuments, fabricated events related to the degeneration of the modernist spirit, are the general descriptions of this new body of work, which consists of four installations and thirteen digital prints.
All the works are essentially historical détournements, as they are inspired by real-life events that are diverted one way or another to generate a more pertinent comment on the abolition of the radicality that determines the avant-garde art and politics. In the fake news era, the ease with which narratives are constructed offers the possibility of such diversions. With the new media potential to construct false pseudo-narratives (3D graphics, digital photomontage, archival and public domain images), an attempt is being made to post-visualize history, either as alleged archival material or as supposed modern reconstructions and events, all related to the aforesaid concept.
For the current exhibition, which constitutes a part of the wider body of Zacharias’ work on the decadence of the modernist utopian spirit, the artist chose for his show those certain ideas that contain the political element, but are also determined by the apparatus of historical reconstructions as mentioned above, in order to refer more prominently to the present-day phenomena we experience in contemporary mainstream politics; from populism and the normalization of political struggle to fake news culture, but also to the crucial question of how we perceive utopia a century later, through a notion of dystopia and not as a futuristic imaginary, but rather as a projection to history itself.
*Actually, Klucis is sitting beside the driver, a fact that was restored through the intervention of Zacharias, who identified Klucis and contacted Spaulding and his source, Maria Gough. They both confirmed that there was indeed a mistake on the order of the persons posing on the photograph.