What's North, What's South? by Vlassis Caniaris
at the Kalfayan Galleries, Haritos Street.
Caniaris left his native Greece in 1956 and lived in a number of European cities, including Rome, Paris and Berlin. Sensitive to the immigration situation across Europe, he brought this issue to the forefront in his artistic practice, focussing not only on immigration, but also on matters of national identity and social inequality.
With echoes of Arte Povera and the trends that had developed since Marcel Duchamp, Caniaris used the appropriation of the found object as the key aspect of his work. He created socially conscious assemblages, abject sculptural tableaux made from everyday objects: plywood partitions, faded wallpaper, shabby carpet remnants, old suitcases, chairs, toys, bicycles, clothing and accessories - objects that people acquire and use to shape their lives. His installations evoke an itinerant and semiprivate lifestyle, drawing attention to immigrant plight and the social conditions of displacement.
Human figures are part of his installations: built to human scale, clothed in scarecrow-like bodies made from chicken wire and plaster, these figures often have parts that are missing or unfinished.
Whatever the people want: from the back and from the front
Made out of plaster, chicken wire and appropriated clothes, the figure is draped with the Greek flag - pride or burden?
The figure, a dummy made from plaster, chicken wire and old clothes, has a hat made of newspaper and a camera around his neck. He strides Colossus-like, his feet and head swollen beyond realistic proportion, through a fenced-in lot festooned with miniature national flags.
What's North, What's South? (Children and Testimony), 1988
The Third World South being promoted to advanced Northern Europe.
Marginalised figures of loneliness, a depiction of The Other. A work that given today's movement from South to the North, was truly prophetic.