Text: Alec Coiro
Ioanna Pantazopoulou returns to her native Greece and expands on her magical bag of tricks with “Lucky Charms and Magic Potions” at The Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Center in Athens. While her practice has always included recycled materials, this is the first show that includes a repurposed magical broomstick.
I talked to Pantazopoulou outside of Safe Gallery after the John Newman talk and she told about sourcing the materials for the current show. It was a behind the scenes peek into the process of an artist who combines aesthetics with a theoretical and ecological undergirding, and also adds a spirit of adventure, exploration, and discovery to the mix. I think that’s the special element I couldn’t put my finger on the last time I wrote about Pantazopoulou’s work. Her creations carry with them the aura and thrill of the post modern treasure hunting.
The piece she had told me about involved the discovery of an old abandoned factory, which would become S.S.S.(Shining Super Star). Created from expired tomato sauce and smoked eggplants and mushrooms, the sculpture elevates these castoffs in a almost cathedral-like construction that ascends them toward the heavens.
The aforementioned magic broomstick is part of W.O.F. a tapestry that reminds us of the importance of craft on P’s work. We are thus also reminded of craft’s attendant association with the human hand and thus humanity in writ large. In the context of Pantazopoulou’s work this calls to mind humanity assertion of itself in the face of machine-made international capitalism.
Hammock are a recurring theme for Pantazopoulou. The latest iteration in this show is entitled S.H.W. It is decorated with recycled gold tinted aluminum that has been transformed from a label used for branding to a signifier of luxury that is available to all.
I love P’s hammocks. They offer a glimpse of the utopian possibility of the 21st century where instead of robots taking our jobs and producing waste, they serve us drinks as we swing from gilded hammocks. Of course, at the same time — as does all her work — the hammocks call attention to the infinite piles of industrial litter that surrounds us. Pantazopoulou’s is a body of work with much to explore; there are many tiers of meaning and a slew of intricate details to match.