“Creasing a breath”, Amfissa, 7 – 23 October 2016.
The armchair - mother
Mother in her armchair, a few years before she passed away, immobilized in her throne, covered with flower motives. A deep seat with wide arms and two soft cushions. Yellow sunflowers scattered around emerging out of dark foliage, a bit like a garden. After many years of distance, the armchair becomes a place of encounter and of acceptance. A transitional place and time before the final separation. It is also the place of reception. In the living room that still preserves what is left of a life-time, of objects, furniture, photographs, paintings, memories. As the centre of all, the armchair close to the window. A bit of light comes in illuminating the round table in front of her.
The small ashtrays, the cigarette box, the silver tray with the colorful rosaries, a few photographs of young children, the television remote control. Mother gradually sinks, and becomes smaller year after year, lost almost amidst the sunflowers and the shady foliage. I sit on the side, on the sofa underneath the large horse painting. The sofa often swallows me. Sometimes gently, dreamily, and sometimes fiercely, cruelly. Truths and lies are suspended on the air between us. The armchair remains silent and dark. Sometimes I lay on the sofa, turning it into a bed, and I even curl up, like a small child. Then quiet takes over. The light from the window that looks out towards the big airshaft becomes stronger. Mother becomes a shadow, maybe I drift off to sleep for a little while.
The Armchair-Mother becomes a dark mass across the light. I look at it and slowly shut my eyes.
Creasing a breath
by Apostolis Artinos
In Lacanian theory we come across the concept of traversal when the subject, as it tears apart the veil of fantasy, gains an impression of the real. In Lizzie Calligas’s creases, ranging from her “Metoikisis” photographs of the Acropolis Museum wrapped sculptures prior to their departure for their new home, to the works presented in this show, it is a veil that delineates the truth of the Object, the originality of its shape and the primariness of its significance; a veil that un-conceals the Object in the scene of its concealment and silent comprehension. It is not a phantasmatopoeia that we are dealing with here, rather it is a lifting of the veil through the traces that it reveals; traces of a structure that is named while it remains unspeakable, a structure that as it is unveiled it appears to be under wraps. Τhe shape of the Other that appears is witnessed in its vagueness, in the technical uprisings of its memory, in the shape only of its emotional affect.
Following the death of her mother, Lizzie Calligas visits the apartment where she used to live. She covers all the furniture in clear plastic and photographs them. She freezes them in the silence of this departure but before they too depart. She immobilizes them in this atmosphere of theirs, in the memories they give rise to, in her mother’s gestures, in anything they can still recall. She animates them with that breath that inspired them and salvaged their shape in its tallied time. She fortifies them in this way within the awkwardness of mourning and renders them visible to its slow time.
But, this scene of things, which is it? How do things respond? Do they respond at all? There is a flow, a flow of emotion within the world, which acts superficially, on the skin of things, creasing them with meaning. A structural distortion that also yields their familiar relief, which also becomes the relief of our experience. In this way, the objectivity of our world does not belong to the clarity of its structures but to their emotional affect, to their deflection in this field that will render things vessels of life. An energy that deflects the structurality of the world in the cradle of the anticipation of its origin. I wait, within the world, for that which is not world, but which introduces me into it. I tune in to a vibration that stimulates my environment as well as my passive but concentrated gaze. A revelatory experience that attributes the meaning of things to their active enunciation. Things have an effect on me as subjects of the self. Images that encircle us, exposing us to an environment that belongs to us and at the same time doesn’t.
Images that distract my gaze, ex-pose it, define its scope. In this scope of expectation where the gaze also takes over its internality. Aestheticizing its surroundings, it distorts it also in the concave οf its insights, in projections that are not consolidated in the gaze but in this unity of origin that is taken to mean the invisible, the untraceable and the secret. The gaze is thus abandoned, not so much to its images, as to its spectral embodiments, to the upheavals it invites - challenges even - and enchants. The gaze is when it is beyond, beyond the gaze, towards death, in this orbit of captivation that lets go of the world, offering it up to its multiple deaths. In an externality that is also its innermost internality, as this is the gaze, faced, face to face, eye to eye, looking straight into the darkness of the other, where he appears. This exhausting experience of looking of Klee’s, where he often felt the forest was looking back at him. This sole essence of the world. An essence that does not belong, as Derrida said of language, but is.
The familiar environment is a language abandoned to its parts. This is why everything within this environment speaks to us. It traces a feverish experience that despite its absence is not missing. Or better yet, precisely because it is absent from its urgent directness its address is more poignant. Life is an economy of death, and its memory the unbearable of its differance, that which excels and perpetually reflects its images. Memory is this in-between interior, between life and death, encircled by shadows, totally covered by the traces of its origins; exactly what these images by Lizzie Calligas attest to. A possibility of the trace to be able to exist, tracing the inconvenience of death, the unparalleled of its differance. The photographs of this apartment draw on the experience of this irreversible absence, this departure with no return for their originative clarity. After all, this is the work of mourning: the corroboration of death, its constant remembering in the space of its effect.
The other surrenders himself to the asymptomatic of my memories, in an obscure transparency where he becomes apparent. My memories render his space real, bathed in a light that both illuminates him and lets him go. This transparency of Calligas’s wrapping which preserves the shape of the object in its insulation, in its practical exclusion. The images of the other, the images that remind us of the other, are also a strange return to its experience, its affectation, this negotiation of things as captured by N.G. Pentzikis in his own work. A negotiation of things that summon the other, its non unreal nature, its living breath, her as she endures her death, this freedom of hers within the world. Assimilations all that conceal the image of their origin but at the same time also establish its absent presence. The other is concealed at the point where he becomes apparent, behind his parts, behind the traces of his origin and departure. And this happens because he belongs nowhere. He will always be inaccessible. An untouchable trace that only by recalling will I be able to communicate, communicate its absence, the truth of its distancing. This is also the ultimate gift of death: the revelation of the other.
The other, the other of death, but also the Other of Death, radiates and casts its light from the other side of the world onto my surroundings, making the familiar space of separation and final departure a space that entails a different sense of closeness and proximity. The other’s things, the other of death that is, speak to us, but they do so in a language that is no language per se, but nocturnal whispers. Αddresses that touch us while we remain impregnable. The asocial of gazes on funerary headstones. “The gaze of the dead who does not look at us in our dreams” as Lacan would say. A language submerged to the silence of its names, to the unspeakable of one of its paradigmatic weaknesses. The silence of this language is also the wound brought by death, the resolution of a linguistic continuation of ours. This is after all the other side, that which is inaccessible by language, its undoing, its regression to the silence of its origin.
This series of photographs reveals a space stripped bare of presence but also a space that has come to be characterized by absence. An absence that metabolizes objects as it exposes them to its light. In this silence all traces are conceived as they withdraw. Withdrawn to the silence of the gaze, to its poetics rather than their use. They form the environment of a familiar death, their own death, which nevertheless is what dictated them in life. I am in my death means I endure, it means I become available to the appropriation of the other, to the re-remembrance of my parts. I know this scene, I recognize it in my very own deaths, I carry them all within me, they exhaust me but I also reminisce of them, I validate them, I validate them as much as I can.
translation: Irini Bachlitzanaki