Interviews

Georgia Sagri

Georgia Sagri, Soma in orgasm; as leg, as hand, as brain, as ear, as heart, as breast, as sex, 2017, aluminum, acrylic spraypaint, various metallic parts, plastic, fabric, dimensions variable. Photo: Angelos Giotopoulos.

Georgia Sagri is an artist based in Athens and in New York. Here, she discusses Dynamis, 2017, her piece for Documenta 14, which entangles twenty-eight sculptures of organs, ten breathing scores, and six days of “demonstration / performance simultaneously and in continuum” with a chorus—featuring Nora Barbier, Sophia Djitli, Ioannis Karounis, Clara Marie Müller, Angela Stiegler, and Fernanda Valdivieso, Marianna Feher, Emma Howes, Lo-Yi Lee, Jaqueline Lisboa Silva, Hannah Peinemann, Deva Schule, and Catherine Woywod—and will take place from June 7 through June 12, 2017, in Athens and Kassel. The departure points on June 7 are Tositsa 5 in Athens at noon and the Glass Pavilions on Kurt-Schumacher-Straße in Kassel, also at noon. A public discussion on the work will take place on June 12 at 8 PM at the Papier Café in the School of Fine Arts in Kassel.

MY WORKS ARE DECLARATIONS, CLAIMS, AND ANNOUNCEMENTS. They are ghosts—appearances that eventually take shape materially and then disappear. My Dynamis / Invitation was emailed to a lot of people—friends, friends of friends. I sent it to so many people because I hope they will in turn send it to their friends and make the invitation open up even more. In that sense materiality is not simply what it is made and finalized. I’m more interested in the tactics that the piece proposes, in terms of how it defines and claims the time and how it is produced.

The invitation is a call for something to take place and a confirmation that it will try to make its declaration possible. It is a text, it has a design, it is distributed in many different ways and it can be utilized by everyone—like a poster on the wall, a message on a flyer that it is handed out to passersby—my works could happen if the realm, the moment, factors and agents allow it to be received and make its reason exist.

Production is defined not only by an already existing frame—such as institutions, language, and the specific decisions I have made about the work materially—but by the moment when the work is able to autonomously shift its fate as a piece of art, as something that makes everyone feel responsible to have a claim in its production. My work hinges on this. That’s why the up-front language in the invitation—“We need to continue to stay in trouble”—is written the way it is: I want the receivers to respond and to create a purpose, the ground of the work. The invitation itself is not the piece. The piece is made when the text is read, when the message is received, and when curiosity and excitement come. The receivers are all different; I thought it was really beautiful that you wrote to me to ask what is this all about and you wanted to know more about it. The invitation is also, symbolically, a return of Documenta’s institutional invitation back to where it belongs—to everyone.

Clearly over the past decade we have been experiencing the decisive development of fascism through the dictating assumption that capitalism is the only way for all of us to organize our lives and deaths. Creative producers under such economic and social pressure can turn into unquestioning automatons of production, working just for the sake of acquiring the authorship stamp made in art.*

The piece Δύναμη / Dynamis is taking place at the same time in two cities, and it acts as a reminder that the social exists. The orgasm is the work’s structural methodology. Sexual encounter for all living creatures demands four stages: excitement, plateau, peak (orgasm), and resolution. The sculptures involved in the work evoke organs, and when they go out in the public, on the streets, that’s the moment of the orgasm, and that’s why the sculptures are called Soma in orgasm; as leg, as hand, as brain, as ear, as heart, as breast, as sex. The excitement in the piece is the emotional shaping, and the shape of the training, the breathing patterns, and the shape of the sculptures, the shape of the work. The plateau is the moment when this shape makes a trajectory with other trainings, with different forms and others, and of course when this takes place the orgasm happens and the organs go out. The resolution is when, after six days of demonstration and performance, we will all gather to talk and to recall.

Performance—an exhausted term—has the capacity to return an invitation, to distribute power and to let go of representation. It allows for the manipulation of an existing framework. The very fact that its core is nongraspable but at the same time so common accounts for its impossibility as a medium and makes it uncontrolled. One of the dynamic elements of performance is time. Everyone talks about the here and now of performance, the presence of the artist, and that performance is ephemeral. For me, what takes place in performance has already been formed before, meaning that it was already. As the material has taken place before, it is a heritage of shadows you carry. Performance is crystal-image. It is projection. It is visual affect. And it has the materiality of a dream.

*made in art © Georgia Sagri.

Georgia Sagri, Dynamis / Invitation, 2017, C-print.

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