The National Garden 

Thoughts on the installation

 

The garden is the smallest parcel of the world and then it is the totality of the world.
Michel Foucault
Of Other Spaces (1967), Heterotopias

The garden as a concept resulted from the meeting of our group Indoors (Marigo Kassi, Vally Nomidou, Spiridoula Politi, Mary Christea) during the spring of 2010) with three more individuals that also felt our need for expansion, collaboration and communication: the visual artists Antigoni Kavvatha and Kostantinos Stamatiou, as well as the physicist Dr Ernestos Argyres. This new schema was called Indoors Plus.
Aim of our meetings became the production of a new work through the creation of a space-place where our different voices would meet to deal with subjects of identity and ways of relating in an attempt to mitigate any differences originating from our different individualities.
The concept of the garden soon emerged from our discussions.
For us, the garden is a miniature version of society, with respect to co-existence, individuality, difference, self-management, ethics, autonomy, meaningful communication. The current situation and the recent sociopolitical events had started causing us great concerns, affecting the mood and the content of our meetings.

Impulsively we personally associated the concept of the “Garden” with the National Garden of Athens.
For us the concept “national” is not identical to the concept of borders. The basis of the definition of this term is community awareness, meaning the awareness of the people that they form a community.

On the one hand, it is this familiar emotive space of childhood recollections and experiences, from the frequent visits in its spaces, with the ducks, the animals, the birds, the bagels. Innocent memories. On the other hand, it is next to the parliament building, the monument of the Unknown Soldier and Syntagma Square, where the most important recent historical events are taking place. These symbols of values disputed today gave birth to strong feelings and thoughts:
The betrayal of our expectations as citizens and members of society has frozen us.
We experience the loss of the sense of the social bond.
Instability and political fluidity leads us to perplexity, not to defeat.
Everything is suspended up in the air.
We live the end of an era.
We borrow the name and the ground plan of the National Garden of Athens, reducing its form and its content: we elevate the elements of the ground plan and we designate the Garden as a symbol of the current situation in Greece.
The difficulties our team faced, in regard to collaboration, reflect various grave problems characterizing our society. However, an artistic group activity of this kind, hopefully affects the social whole in a positive way, by creating a core with common responsibilities and common vision.

Description of the installation
The installation is a large white architectural maquette-about 50 m2- which the viewer can enter and walk around. The forms of the ground plan – flowerbeds, are literally lifted up from the ground and levitate, pierced by metal rods, creating a sense of instability. The maquette is a mental model, a fictitious paper world. Our decision to create the work as an oversized maquette places the viewer between the real and the virtual. The space is real and allegorical at the same time. The white colour dominates and creates a cold feeling referring to a cold, paradoxical lifeless space.

Together with the experience of this paradoxical, cold landscape, and following a path inside the garden, the viewer becomes part of the work, activating with his passing a hollow sound, that uncannily enlivens the space.
In our work, the National Garden becomes a polar landscape, violently fragmented, agitated, succumbing to the global tendency of degradation and degeneration. It is finally becoming a symbol of the urgent need of a creative reconstruction.