Evanthia Tsantila on Room, Landscape

With the present series of drawings I attempt to interrogate the mechanisms of memory generation as well as the means of its transmission. I take myself into imaginary landscapes constituted by the very process of this interrogation, re-instituting my relation to history, to others, to the representational means of the present, to the body, and our alienation from it.

I do not offer the recorded past up for symbolisation. These drawings are not allegories of catastrophe but its appearance. The dense metropolitan grid, the empty room of a flat abandoned after a disaster has occurred, a fragment from an important etching of European history, human figures, a wolf, a ship, they are all incipiently recognisable elements due to their familiar form. Yet by revealing their complexion, as an aborted interiority that cannot become exterior, these elements -presented in an x-ray like manner, conveying the neutrality of a scientific report, and shedding any sense of naturalness- appear as remote and alien. I' m not familiar with my interior. I probe into the interiority of the body, whether that of a human being or a thing, a body which is at once taken for granted, by necessity familiar, and impossible to be captured. In the first drawing there's recorded visually the trace of Walter Benjamin's phrase as it flashes up inside the landscape.

Under the constant assault of realistic/naturalistic images and the claim to truth launched by the dominant structures of representation, recording and memorialisation, the withered eye further atrophies into the pre-given and unchallenged identities available by the meaning generating mechanisms. Such identifications make, in effect, impossible any comprehension of what has happened and is happening to humanity individually and collectively.

I try to face, obliquely, what cannot appear in itself but also try to record the failure of generating the memory that could have sheltered it. Memory 'flashes up' for a moment and in this flash leaves its trace. This trace as it appears somewhere, almost as an image, I seek. How to allow the incomprehensible appear? Τhat which we fleetingly catch sight of at a side glance and, while turning our heads trying to grasp it, flees again to the perplexed regions of a strange margin.

Evanthia Tsantila
Berlin, May 2006

Published in the catalogue of the exhibition The Grand Promenade
EMST - National Museum for Contemporary Art Athens, 2006