memory in future time*

Ioannis MICHALOU(di)S is one of those contemporary artists who though espousing international visual inquiry and language, and in indeed is involved with their most recent experimental and scientific applications, remains at the level of idea and of form a supporter of local culture. Thus, from his interdisciplinary experience and training in both art and science, works have emerged that literally hover between the past and the future. This is due in large part to the material to which he was first exposed in a seminar at MIT and immediately began using, silica aerogel. But MICHALOU(di)S - as he prefers to sign his surname, by contracting it, as he does also with the title of his recent works - voluntarily trapped in a game of knowledge and chance, of etymology and joke, was fascinated by this particular material, which looks like solidified air and is widely used by NASA because of its insulating qualities. Silica aerogel, although ubiquitous in space and high technology, is an unknown material and a scientific paradox for artistic creation, despite its truly magical image and texture, which allows it to "transform" the painted skies of the Venetian School into virtual reality. And yet its basic contituent, silica, for all its fragility, is a material of high durability to time, a material with continuity and memory.

Perhaps this particular characteristic of it makes it most suitable for serving a diachronic value such as art. In an age when everything aims at dematerialization, this material composed of 99% air and 1% glass follows the opposite course. In essence it "materializes" "nothing" and it owes its plasticity not to its principal ingredient, air, but to that minimal percentage of glass, which gives it "body". That is why MICHALOU(di)S has called his works aer()sculptures, revealing both their constitution and the sideral origin of his material. A material that exists pre-eternally in the universe in the form of particles, but whose present form is so recent that it is considered a material of the future.
However, what is more interesting for the viewer of the works is not the composition or the provenance of the material, for all the admittedly alluring image it offers, but the way in which the artist incorporates it in the creative process. MICHALOU(di)S uses the astral material to represent cycladic figurines, that is works of the 3rd millennium B.C. Thi is not the first time that he feels that the ancient form demands from him a metamorphosis... The archetypal form of the cycladic figurines, which is the cultural nucleus not just of Greece but of the whole of the West, appeaers because of its abstraction eminently timely and suitable for "habitation" by a super-modern material.

MICHALOU(di)S apparently conceived this message of the timelessness and modelling of form, which inhabits the collective subconscious, when he decided to predict the future image of the figurines, by "embracing" them with the nostalgia distinctive only of a Greek who has lived abroad for many years.

 

 

Katerina Koskina
Art historian - Museologist
September 2006

* This text was written for the catalogue of Ioannis MICHALOU(di)S' exhibition aer()sculptures at the N. P. Goulandris Foundation - Museum of Cycladic Art that opened in October 2006