Three contemporary visual artists, who share an affinity with their contemporary Hellenic heritage, have collaborated to produce original artworks which aim to challenge contemporary myths and stereotypes about their diasporic identity. Exhibition curated by Rita Macarounas.
Evolution Given this city's name and evolutionary past, I often joke how the first Kalymnians recruited to dive for pearl in the murky Arafura sea, sniffed other opportunities for autonomy and stepped out of the sea, transmorphing into builders and concreting Darwin.
Rita and I are decided to exhibit together and develop an exhibition around common themes such as diaspora and displacement. Rita and I are born in Darwin and are of Greek-Kalymnian heritage.
Abstracts Random subtraction and abstraction is at the heart of the evolutionary narrative, and exposes the essentialist lie in defining national or ethnic characteristics. As such I present this exhibition unlike a whole narrative, but by randomly subtracting and connecting unrelated objects and materials. In history, territorial claims of ownership have been made over land more so than the sea. A lesson from history is not to “beware of Greeks bearing gifts” but of entitlement stemming from an ethnic identity attached to land. Contested claims to "Identity” are at the root of and the product of constant global warfare displacing people and to today’s concentration camps interring and incarcerating refugees.
Ghosts I have in resurrected the digital ghost of two great grandmothers. Themelina lived for a period in Florida between WW1-WW2. Whilst Eirini lost her only son- my maternal grandfather Emmanuel- to Darwin. The childhood photos of her grandchild-my mother Eirini- and my mother's extended family were posted by her to her son in Darwin before she lost all her grandchildren to this land.
Diaspora and Detritus have been the defining characteristics of the Hellenic people, cast adrift, swallowed up and spat out as human refuse on foreign shores. “Diasporic” is the defining characteristic every human being. Sea sponges, seaweed, the ocean's detritus spat out and drying on the shore I pick up from my afternoon dog walks, and show through the application of spray paint and use of digital manipulation the many artifices at work in stamping upon this fluidity the rigid imprint of a national identity.
My father was born on Kalymnos and arrived in Darwin in 1954 when he was 16 years old. Melancholia A family portrait of my father, Iraklis was taken after they returned to Kalymnos from a WW2 refugee camp. My grandmother Anna, Themelina's daughter, lost all those children bar one you see in the picture to distant lands. Some returned to die before she did, one returned to her in a casket from Darwin. My 78 yo father helped me to mount this work, the cabinet and all
the prints you see in the exhibition.
Poetic trauma I have inherited over 20 generations of trauma. Melancholia, displacement, a meandering spirit is embedded in my DNA. I do not want to identify with land or flag. I have inherited music and art, literature and poetry, history, language and culture, which has evolved from the connectivities of many subjectivities colliding. I have inherited legacy which cannot be concreted. I have deliberately omitted the use of concrete in this exhibition.
The word Melancholia flows from μελάνι or the color blue/purple. I've deliberately omitted all references to the color blue because I want to resist from any conventional association of my identity with a color appropriated by nationalism, an artificial instrument which has been at the root of my family's displacement.
RITA MACAROUNAS EXODUS
My body of work is on the Greek diasporic movement of the 21st century. Diaspora, the Greek word meaning “scatter”. A large number of young educated Greeks have left their country to become citizens of Australia bringing with them their culture, hopes, dreams and vitality. This mass exodus of youth is my subject matter." Rita Macarounas