The Greek artist Diohandi has re-appropriated the entire Greek Pavilion for her site-specific installation at the 54th Venice Biennale di Venezia. Beyond Reform is a secular minimalist chapel that focuses on the use of light, space and water to interpret the Biennale’s theme of Illuminations. The exterior of the Pavilion has replaced the familiar Byzantine structure of the Greek Pavilion with a clean, minimalist facade covered with thin panelled wooden slats, as if under renovation, with small openings to view the original structure beneath. The simple 8-m high rectangular entrance leads to pristine white stairs. Inside, a high frequency pitch creates a sense of unease. A platform runs through the darkened pavilion, installed just inches above water covering the entire floor, towards a vertical strip of sheer light at the far wall. The experiential installation is a place to feel, to think, to contemplate; a metaphor for the past and the future, the light is a symbol of hope, the passageway leads to other possibilities showing that life can change.
This art installation is a culmination of Diohandi’s interest in space and time – in particular – specific sites at specific points in time. The veiling of the Hellenistic exterior of Greece’s national pavilion provides a political commentary of the current economic crisis in Greece. The interior installation extends this dialogue to include the architectural surroundings of Venice and its relationship with space and water.
“The installation at the Greek pavilion in a way reflects, with Diohandi’s specific work, the current political state of Europe and of the world at large. It is at the same time, obviously, a comment on the contemporary Greek experience of economic Recession and IMF tutelage: a place of light thrown into darkness and decline, holding on, almost willy-nilly it seems, to hopes of spiritual and socio-political reconstruction; in other words, to a vision of light that should bring along clarity of mind, as if the ultimate catharsis.” Maria Marangou
The pavilion was subsequently vandalised by Anonymous Stateless Immigrants, a guerilla group that claims “to mobilize people in support of a borderless world and freedom of speech for everyone in opposition to representational and identity politics and limitation of human mobility.” They also vandalized the US Pavilion and participated in a sanctioned event at the Danish satellite exhibition ‘Osloo’.
Commissioner: The Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Directorate of Visual Arts – Department of Promotion of Contemporary Art, The Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism
Curator: Maria Marangou, Assistant Curator: Stavros Kavallaris
54th Venice Biennale. 4 June – 27 November 2011