Thrilos 2001”

K. Sarantopoulos Flour Mills

In Greek, thrilos means “legendary” or “heroic.” Today, the epithet is often bestowed on star soccer teams and players by their fans. “Thrilos 2001,” sponsored by the Olympiakos soccer team and held in the warehouses of the K. Sarantopoulos flow mills, pairs high art with an apparently incompatible subject, the massively popular sport of soccer. Some of the artists took their cues from the game itself or from the red-and-white Olympiakos banner to create works specifically for this show; others, like Wim Delvoye, Yiannis Gaitis, Jeff Koons, and Yiannis Tsarouchis, were included because of their thematic references to sport generally. Notions of rivalry, competitiveness, and opposition were widely elaborated. For the overall installation as well, it appeared that curators Marina Fokidis and Alexandros J. Stanas employed a method one might call “competitive confrontation,” in which works were so arranged that the play of opposites inherent in certain formal principles of art was astutely projected.

This strategy could be seen in the diagonal juxtaposition of Thanassi Totsikas’s diptych Untitled, 1994, comprising two metallic red panels, with an irregularly shaped floor work, also Untitled, 2000, by Socrates Socratous, which was made of dullish red-haired plastic brushes. The contrast of tones and textures was obvious here. The content of Totsikas’s work deals with painterliness and, in this instance, with the qualities and function of color seen in the rich depths of the industrialized sheen of the wine-red surface, the work’s sole link to the Olympiakos team. Socratous chose as well to resort to formal means and indirect inferences, but his work embodied an oblique counterproposal to the rectangular aluminum panels and their vertical position on the wall.

Uri Tzaig’s video Infinity, 1998, uses sport and a playing field as a backdrop. Tzaig presents us with a game that is not a game, that runs ad infinitum, and in which there are no winners or losers. The poetry and elegance of movement take precedence over rivalry, negating the concept of the sports match. Projected on a wall directly above Socratous’s floor piece, Tzaig’s video seemed to further amplify the implicit commentary on the regularity/irregularity of the rectangular canvas/playing field. Finally, the placement of Apostolos Georgiou’s painting Untitled, 2000, on the adjacent wall created a three-way line of tension among these works, a tension further developed by the thematic content of Georgiou’s painting: an undercurrent of rivalry sharply underscored by the two red figures sitting opposite each other at a table, intensely and absurdly engaged in an invisible activity.

The Olympiakos team itself was the theme of Maria Papadimitriou’s video Match: Beware of the Reds, 2000. In a game of backgammon played between the artist and the captain of the team, Papadimitriou ingeniously exploited the notions of competitiveness and opposites. The cropped cinematic dose-ups were wonderfully arresting in their restrained sensuousness, emphasized by the accent on the warm color of the skin of the hands, faces, and unclothed body parts and the controlled dominance of the bold red. The image-by-image sequence served to enunciate the idea of opposites, the dyads male/female and sensuous/rational, and the contrived meeting of art with sport. Lina Theodorou’s video Living Red, 2000, focused on the obsessive and belligerent subculture that has crystallized around football and the passion by which it is fired and sustained. However, it was the shots of the crowds and the players filmed in slow motion in stunningly stark artificial colors that were memorable. In contrast, Dimitris Kozaris’s video Wrong Move, 2000, is a short, economic, and delightful spoof on the serious attitude fans bring to sport, coupled with clumsy and comical performances.

Catherine Cafopoulos