Lina Theodorou

 
 

Lina Theodorou - videos (1999-2005)


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- 1999 Hippodrome
- 2000 Distribution of consecrated bread
- 2000 Living red
- 2001 Archetypal
- 2002 Wonderpark
- 2004 Bureau
- 2004 Trapped in "Hotel Convention"
- 2004 Cul-de-sac
- 2005 Addiction
- 2006 Le Tailleur
- 2006 Plumbers
- 2006 Loan

A traveller waiting at an empty railway station
(This is the title chosen by my computer for the following text)

A traveller waiting at an empty railway station.
In another scene, the same traveller is in an almost empty train that travels fast. The scenes alternate and the two situations unfold in parallel within the plot, without any meeting points between them. The traveller seems to be trapped in a place —or non-place— which is timeless and solitary, a mental trap with no obvious way out. The question of the emotional impasse of escape along with the expectation of imminent change is dealt with by Lina Theodorou’s Cul-de-sac, which is presented along with her latest body of work at the Ileana Tounta art gallery in Athens. The personal story of someone who may be close to Theodorou becomes the platform for examining such social phenomena as the ‘neurotic mobility’ of contemporary culture, where the rebels without a cause are now joined by runaways without a destination.
In another projection further inside the exhibition space, the artist herself turns into a passive voyeur. In the work Wonderpark a camera shoots Theodorou as she follows closely and examines various men who are moving mysteriously around the vague setting of an urban park. And as the artist goes deeper and deeper into the specific area, the atmosphere of her work feels strangely familiar.
Through a personal journey in different places —private as well as public, real as well as invented, since they refer to confused memories— Theodorou shares her daily occupation of silently observing life and commenting on the collective structure of our society through her own personal experiences. As she seeks the interface between conscious and unconscious, the artist explains:
Despite the fact that I am interested in portraying reality, the good knowledge of a story, like the one that takes place in the park which I cross every day, leads to a subjective narrative. The places and the persons themselves become the platform for a narration in which memory and observation become confused and are mixed into one under the prism of appropriation. Often a strong desire to identify with certain persons and situations leads me to the process of recording these stories, a process which serves as a kind of emotional liberation.
To Theodorou the medium of video seems to work like an automatic ‘seeing machine’ which operates within a fully virtualised geographic reality. As a result we are called upon to perceive differently, through a more remote experience like that of television watching, some situations which we thought were familiar. The screen becomes for us —as the camera becomes for the artist— a tool for generating personal meanings and attitudes towards things.
The cinema dresses the eye in uniform, writes Kafka. In an era of telematic perception of real terrorism in its true scale as well as of any other truth which looked utopian till recently, the digital processing of images seems to have no place any more. The medium appears to serve for Theodorou as a vehicle of realisation outside the body or the mind and beyond language; a live performance used as a communication medium with no technical or aesthetic distortions, only with montage interventions as part of her personal editing of what is called truth. To my question about the use of this specific medium at this juncture, Theodorou answers:
I am interested in the image in its simplest form, and in the element of surprise during the shooting of the film. These things require an almost invisible use of the camera. I think that the point where reality is led to transcend itself is very important, and this is something that can be achieved through the video. I am not trying to reach any conclusions or simply to find relief in understanding a situation; I am more interested in a kind of exploration of reality through the use of this medium.
Using archetypal images which make up the setting of the contemporary city —such as those of a rundown lawyer’s office which has come to dominate its weakened owner, the impersonal, sinisterly identical corridors of a modern hotel, the natural environment of a park/shelter for weird behaviours or a deserted train station which does not really promote movement, Theodorou reinforces once again the suspicion that in today’s human societies our lives seem to unfold almost mechanically as the community of human destinies is experienced in the anonymity of these non places and in solitude.

May 2004
Marina Fokidis
Independent curator and critic