AQUIS SUBMERSUS

Amvrakia… miaThe notion of space, an invention of modern times, space in general, consisting of homogeneous points, is disassociated from any reference to a subject, it has no ontological importance; place, on the other hand, and more specifically the region of Amvrakia (P. Charalambous’s place of birth, and perhaps his final resting place), becomes the topology par excellence for its formation and breakdown. It is a formative place, an indispensable place! The drawing Aquis Submersus (Submerged in Water) is an allegory of “life and death”, a landscape painting with a distinct mental tune (a Stimmung). It is a self-defining event with modular episodes, in which the subject P. Charalambous acquires his own identity, an amphibian, flexible, changeable, and literally “temporizing” identity. P. Charalambous isn’t the self-complacent aesthetic subject who produces the events, who brings forth the episodes. Rather, he is a place where something happens, and the very act of narrating this “something” makes him happen as well.  Mal d’archiveThe building on number 8 (eight) of Kykladon Street has been standing there for the past 58 years (a number that also represents P. Charalambous’s current age), until a bout of uncontrollable impatience, a yearning for any form of housing, resulted in its housing a temporary archive, a record collection. The original intention of the architect A. Provelengios was to build a “Baraque de Chantier” (worker’s shed), after Le Corbusier (Cabanon, 1954), for the sculptress I. Spiteri – an intention-view more or less shared by its current owner, the architect D. Sotovikis. Its temporary tenant P. Charalambous, always suffering from what has been termed by the philosopher J. Derrida as “archive fever” (mal d’archive), has memorized and devoured all kinds of songs, from folk songs and popular laika songs to easy listening songs and rebetika to melodies and arias to chants and dirges to blues and tangos, as a modern-day Homerist. And all this leads to the ardent desire to create an archive, a series of programs and broadcasts, as an outside prop for a mental mechanism… (Phonopolis, ARTIO Gallery, 2003) Now, deploying flotsam and jetsam found in Amvrakia, the “Ruins of Athens” from the demolition of the Columbia Records plant in 2006, various remains and debris of natural disasters (fires, floods, and earthquakes), audio equipment such as amplifiers, turntables, tape decks, speakers, and countless vinyl records from flea markets around the world (the artist himself has produced seven vinyl records, the soundtracks of his own life), attempts a placement, a distribution (distributio) as an ideal configuration, so that all material is perpetually accessible, “without any loss”, within the boundaries of a shell, an area. The images are not analyzed further; instead, the possibility of an extension, an excess through sonority, is offered. The voices of famous dead singers (D. Stratos, M. Callas, T. Karnavas, etc.), funeral songs sung by Balkan women, the caws of aquatic birds, the lapping of waves, the croaks of frogs, the cracking of ropes, the reverberation of clashing metallic vessels, the sound of oars and cupping glasses, the hiss of heavy hailstorm falling, are all available at any time and moment, the exchange points of an economy, an architectural expectation for coordination, for a synastry in a well-tempered world! Shortly after, a moment later, everything is reduced to silence, to obscurity, to the archaion (the archaic).  Fullness of Harmony“Let me do it”, said Hans Castorp. Everything here is in the service of adoration: the DJ treats the black vinyl records like carrying eggs, meticulously cleaning them with special fluids and brushes, casting fleeting glances at the slow-turning turntables, changing records… The huge leaves of agave (century plant), the rose thorns, and the talons of carnivorous predators (eagles) spread all around will resurrect the voices that once made my heart throb!