Sao Paulo

Geórgia Kyriakakis

Gabinete de Arte Raquel Arnaud

At the seashore, one can see waves break powerfully and turn into foam, at once vigorous, effervescent, and fragile, taking shape only to quickly disintegrate Geórgia Kyriakakis, curiously, associates the shapes formed by such foam with those of countries and continents on maps, outlines meant to trace an identity that in reality is never fixed. “Maps are reference,” the artist told me, “but geography itself is never static.”

Armed with this insight, Kyriakakis began to draw the different continents of the world in white crayon on black paper, composing their forms as if they were made of foam. The resulting exhibition, “Outros Continentes” (Other Continents), emerged as a delicate discourse on the idea of geography, which she subjected to an artistic and political rearrangement.

The exhibition was hung along a single long wall, with maps imaginatively punctuated by photos of the sea. This linear hanging allowed the viewer to follow the course of a single compositional movement and at the same time to focus on the undulations within it. The photographs of the sea, which accompany the drawing of each continent, were transformed into a kind of equatorial band that aligned all the territories into a continuous wavelike design, beginning and ending with the Americas and passing through Africa, Europe, Oceania, Russia, the Middle East, and Greenland. It is as if the artist had taken apart the mappa mundi, disrupting the preestablished forms that are divided into northern and southern hemispheres, and stretched the map horizontally—literally dismantling its apparently immutable hierarchy. In doing so, Kyriakakis has created a unique topography. The black-and-white photos of beachscapes complementing each set of drawings of a continent or region were taken along the Brazilian coast. It is, after all, through the continent that the sea itself is delimited, and it is the sea that links and gives sense to the continents of the world. It conjures connection and at the same time liquidity and impermanence.

Outros Continentes” further unified an already coherent body of work, based on the often ambiguous relationship between place and meaning, place and material. Each of Kyriakakis’s works is an exercise in displacement, in equilibrium and disequilibrium, permanence and ephemerality. In this imaginary topography, the artist seems to be attempting to find the interior of images, seeking to comprehend the subtle and ethereal details that constitute both nature and its representation. Yet her gesture is far from modest: The artist proposes to rechart the world in order to better inhabit it. Kyriakakis wants to understand its meandering borders and its fragility, and, if necessary, reshape its outlines. In this set of procedures, the artist forces us to amend our preconceived notions of strength and fragility, nature and artifice.

Katia Canton

Translated from Portuguese by Clifford E. Landers.