“You are mistaken; I know him well; he is both. As poet and mathematician, he would reason well; as mere mathematician, he could not have reasoned at all, and thus would have been at the mercy of the Prefect.”
(Edgar Allan Poe, The Purloined Letter)
Lambrini Boviatsou’s exhibition, titled ”Reflections on Human” occurs in a very appropriate timing concerning external circumstances- in perfect tune with the current zeitgeist, in an attempt to re-evaluate humanity, both as an active subject , as well as a subject of study.
She urges Man to investigate his own image, inviting him to a process of touching his idol and seek its reflections , to link matter with his inner voice, in a self-critical mood. According to this binary shape both the spectator and the spectacle develop a two-way relationship.
Sartre said that our gaze is what allows us to recognize each other as the Subject : “my fundamental connection with the Other-as-subject must be able to be referred back to my permanent possibility of being seen by the Other.” Prompted by this aphorism, Lacan claims that the Subject established through the look. “You can never look at me from the place I see you”, he wrote characteristically . Lamprini Boviatsou’s work deals with the concept of gazing through various per-spectives.
On Ovidius’ ”Metatamorfoseis III”, Narcissus , the beautiful Boeotian young man , admiring the reflection of his own perfect physique in the river gave no attention nor did he respond to the love of the nymph Echo , who was constantly calling him . As a result, her voice faded away and continually weakened so that only her last syllables were audible, as they were ”gradually diminishing into infinity”. Narcissus died, as he kept on admiring himself in the water of the river which mirrored his image .
Man nowadays seems to be trapped in a ”panopticon” model as described by Bentham and as discussed in sociological terms in Fouccault’s ”Panoptismo” using concepts of power and surveillance. Man doesn’t have full control anymore , nor can he know to what extent he is being manipulated and subjugated .
The works of Lambrini Boviatsou move as intricate gears of a staged project, asking artistic questions about man, his origin , his evolution and his future. Man is called to confront every time the measure of what is “possible ” or “natural ” and finally overcome himself. The measure is, after all, the convention he devised himself to put similar things in comparison , according to his finite power and duration . In the same way, man dominates the urban landscape – the creature , which is inherent with his social existence (a-metropolis). Historical review shows that the path is being carved through opposing forces . On a personal, individual level, from a social perspective, radical changes follow intense emotions or a series of situations- events, like a whirlpool. It is certain that evaluation comes gradually and slowly , and an essential element in this negotiation -besides time- is the interaction with the Other – as an element of diversity and reflection of Self (according to a theocratic conception, initially) and by the prevailing position that knowledge is obtained through the Other. A fact confirmed by the viewers in Art – Art and its objects can not exist independently of a network of relations and emotions caused by themselves. (The necessity of the viewer and the Imagination of the Matter.) In the same way, we should all be more than partakers- more than being able to offer the Gifts, we must be able to accept their interpretation, too. (Hospitality).
Boviatsou’s exhibition is a synthesis in which each work refers to concepts and associative themes , prompting the viewer into an endless game of connections and interpretations of the signifier and signified, according to Barthes.
Poe’s excerpt from ”Purloined letter”, placed as a frontispiece, displays the importance of the connection of subjectivity in the symbolic according to Muller and Richardson. The symbolic constitutes the subject, which is historically proven by the decisive influence of the Subjective. Lacan also believes that a “letter” always reaches its destination. This is based on the belief that the “letter” functions as a signifier, the signified of which is arbitrary and that it may have a position or lose its position only in the symbolic order.
The Boviatsou entire exhibition moves parallel to the dramaturgical axes of the masterful, yet unfinished, play by Georg Buechner, recalling his own questions .
”Woyzeck”, the main character in Buechners’ play , is a soldier whose troubled existence becomes a physical and mental puppet manipulated by his superiors . He is forced to put his body at the disposal of science experiments related to the human species. Confusion prevails. Woyzeck, unable to have a full picture of what is happening between horror and insanity , tries to hold on to his human nature… in vain.
“That’s exactly what happens nowadays , man despite his expertise and scientific knowledge , is again a prisoner of hypertextual coercions, a pawn in the gears of a mechanical system that wants him subdued . ” “This is the man, pity him, glorify him …. !!!» (Woyzeck, the opera of Berg, 1925)
Boviatsou’s work is dynamically evolving as she shifts from the object of her earlier work of the reflections on objects -”katoptro” -while connecting and projecting the Ego to We, shifting her gaze in order to look upon man, asking universal academic and artistic questions. She listens to the echo of our times, fixing her gaze on its own intimate nature, detached from her ego.
Boviatsou’s work examines Man in the context of his environment which it operates as a “body” in the Aristotelian sense, but also as part of the system that affects him. Her elaborate technique captures details in a clear manner and her use of mixed media intends to create “tension ” and accentuate the existing contradictions. The holistic approach in which the subject is approached and viewed as an artistic object – spectacle allows the project reader / viewer to come into interaction with the project, mobilizing his interpretive ability.
In Lambrini Boviatsou’s anthropocentric exhibition, man is invited to reconstruct his identity, to be aware of his origins and to redefine his needs within the complex and ever-changing technological environment .
In the series of these works man is introduced without a specific gender identity , and human nature is presented in an unspecified time – sphere . The duality of the human nature is being ” exposed “, thus, revealing its ambiguity to the public eye. This ambiguity, contained in the duality, is both material and intangible, both intellectual and physical .
The dramatic narrative, composed by the careful selection of paintings, captures masterly the idea that history per se, does not always grow linearly , but is outlined through various other functions . Moreover, the very fact that the exhibition is a call to introspection, reflection and revision, allows itself to be co-shaped by the perception of the public, just like the human kind is being shaped while operating within a system of theocratic concepts and scientific claims and many other events- random elements beyond the human limits and capabilities . The exhibition ”Report on Human” lays the foundation for an open dialogue , completing a “perfect” circular course – starting with Man and returning to him.
Dr Eva Kekou Historian Art Historian / Culture Theorist