Aristide Antonas is a Greek architect that creates ‘speculative’ architectural proposals that comment and critique on social issues surrounding Greece and our contemporary existential meaning. Another way of looking at it, is that he is actually an artist that uses architecture as a means to express his views on society and life, in particular the Greek society of late.
“But we could form landscape languages of remains and see how we can live next to them.” Aristide Antonas
Weak Monument Square (2013) was a design competition entry to create a ‘city square’ or an urban park in the middle of Athens by clearing out several blocks of buildings and surrounding it with scaffolding and fabric; an urban monument by demolition. Its idea was borne from economic collapse; with rows of empty shops on the streets in Athens, Antonas proposed to demolish it all and turn the land into an park.
Georgian artist Vajiko Chachkhiani takes physical pieces from his country and displays them as sculptures in the purified white box environment of art galleries of the west. Many times these involve performances in relation to these pieces, documenting the void left behind in the absence of the performer afterwards. While this can be applied by anyone to anything, it takes on an added relevance in Chachkhiani’s case as he has re-contextualized himself in the process.
By leaving his country to go to another one (Germany in his case), the emptiness and detachment he felt can be more easily translated and understood in these objects. On a metaphysical level, they raise questions about the permanence and ephemerality of supposedly solid, immovable structures.
“The body is fluid, it can move. It can go from place to place. It can travel. And this is what he is really excited about. It is being fluid, being like water in the landscape. ” Nikhil Chopra
Indian artist Nikhil Chopra’s live-drawing performances fuse acting, painting and living together, delving into and dissolving traditional boundaries or long held societal notions, resulting in a reflection on life and our existential modus operandi. Shifting between multiple personas, often within a single performance, he questions the mainstream position on issues such as race and gender identities, the mundane and the artistic, or national and personal cultural histories. In these silent but simultaneously outrageous and absurd part-autobiographical performances, we have a glimpse of his inner thoughts and in turn understand ourselves a bit better.
In Inside Out (2012), Nikhil Chopra goes to San Gimignano, Italy, a picturesque medieval town, to do a landscape painting performance for 99 hours, as various personas of Yog Raj Chitrakar; a character loosely based upon his grandfather Yog Raj Chopra, in a pilgrimage of life.
Teh Ching Hsieh is a Taiwanese performance artist who’s artwork consists, most of the time, of sitting or standing around for a year doing nothing. Like the year he spent in a self-imposed jail at home, or the year punching time clocks on the hour every hour or the year living as a homeless person. Time seems to be the only constant linkage between the works, and the element that gives it meaning from his ideology of meaninglessness.
His first foray into the world of international art has been via by jumping off an oil tanker near Philadelphia and subsequently living in Manhattan as an illegal immigrant in the 1970s. He lived like that, working in Chinese restaurants until one day in 1978 he had an idea to do something about it, which was to build a cage at home and imprison himself for a year; an expression of how he felt his life was like. With strict rules not to talk to anyone or watch TV or do anything productive, this became known as the Cage Piece (1978).
Italian artist Adelita Husni-Bey produces part documentary, part artistic films which delve into social issues, expectations that we place on each other based on certain perceptions which then become constructs that are sometimes questionable.
After The Finish Line (2011) is a film about a group of US teenagers who each practice a sport competitively, and their thoughts and feelings about the life that they live and the toll practicing the sport takes on them.