Tinos Island, Greece

Eglė Kulbokaitė, Hypersea I // To escape the banal-terrestrial like angels, 2015, Tinian marble, mastic, 9 7/8 × 9 × 7". From “Time Flies Like an Arrow, Fruit Flies Like a Banana,” 2015.

Eglė Kulbokaitė, Hypersea I // To escape the banal-terrestrial like angels, 2015, Tinian marble, mastic, 9 7/8 × 9 × 7". From “Time Flies Like an Arrow, Fruit Flies Like a Banana,” 2015.

“Time Flies Like an Arrow, Fruit Flies Like a Banana”

Cultural Foundation of Tinos

Eglė Kulbokaitė, Hypersea I // To escape the banal-terrestrial like angels, 2015, Tinian marble, mastic, 9 7/8 × 9 × 7". From “Time Flies Like an Arrow, Fruit Flies Like a Banana,” 2015.

Curated by Valentinas Klimašauskas, “Time Flies Like an Arrow, Fruit Flies Like a Banana” was the culmination of the Tinos Quarry Platform, a new residency program cofounded by artist Petros Touloudis and Vasilis Nasis. Time on this Cycladic island is marked by diurnal rituals that vary according to seasonal harvests, in contrast to the relentless treadmill of urban life. Assembled in a museum conference room, the installations, produced through encounters between international artists and local artisans, conjured a lively, and strangely harmonious, conversation between starkly different conceptions of time and being, captured perfectly in the syntactic ambiguity of the title.

For The Contingency of Cheese (all works 2015), Jennifer Teets worked with local farmers to cultivate goat cheese, a process that triggered discussions about island economics and animal behavior. Suspended in locally handcrafted baskets lined with pantyhose, the aromatic balls embodied the essence of reciprocal transformation growing out of the collaboration as they continued to age, harden, and grow mold formations. Lorenzo Cirrincione’s Sunless Hours is an abandoned schoolhouse cabinet full of lesson books, archived and transported to the conference room; its mantle of dust, the distilled residue of time, filled a transparent tube fashioned into a belt, a sort of chronology. Wresting it from the shadow of oblivion, the artist altered the artifact’s existential trajectory, effectively rearranging its temporal cellular structure.

Known since antiquity for its marble production, Tinos is home to an active artistic community and a school focusing on sculptural techniques. Dorota Gawęda’s Ophidians—marble carved with snake-eye motifs in the shape of the decorative fanlights adorning island doors—stared penetratingly from atop a stack of modern red chairs. Mikko Kuorinki instructed a potter, a pair of weavers, and a marble carver to produce objects within certain parameters, resulting in unexpected expressions of colliding visions: An anthropomorphic terra-cotta pot was positioned precariously on top of an audiovisual cart—an embroidered cloth and marble sculpture propped on the shelves below—its mouth agape as if lecturing to the room’s battalion of empty chairs. Knotted at the end as if tongue-tied from pronouncing its own tongue-twister title (too long to mention here), Carl Palm’s suspended red banner was a nod to the island’s windy atmosphere and cryptic local vernacular.

The cacophonous artifacts assembled in the conference room evinced a new language devised in the process of negotiation and compromise dictated by this momentary collusion of cultures. In Mei Piech Chi—its title a double entendre uniting a contemporary ninja character and an ancient statue—Pakui Hardware revived the missing arms of a waving Aphrodite in biomorphic marble pieces attached to a tripod, its shadows cast on a screen to invoke an animated ghost. Eglė Kulbokaitė’s Hypersea I // To escape the banal-terrestrial like angels is a poetic reflection of the whole productive complicity: Pristine blocks of Tinian marble, its veins a natural record of geological time, were topped with lumps of sugary cream, a Tinian dessert called submarine, which gradually cascaded into luscious incidental puddles. Recalling Freud’s observation that “mutually contradictory thoughts make no attempt to do away with each other but persist side by side” to form cordial condensations, the two substances, liquid and solid, represented different conditions of metamorphosis.

A flying creature bearing a succulent plant in place of limbs, Gawęda’s Turritopsis dohrnii hovered above a formation of chairs: Was it a jellyfish out of water, or an artist drone out of its comfort zone? The sculpture was aimed at Pakui Hardware’s video Toop, Toop, Toop.ppt, in which the hoot of an owl is compared to the mechanical toot of an alarm system, in turn evoking absence through a local myth in which the bird cries for its missing sibling, merging urban and rural aural worlds. The work reflected yet another temporal plane, the electronic realm that engulfs our contemporary consciousness, with appropriated images of women staring at monitors dissolving into pixels, one phrase on our screen explaining: “Bits of information digesting time in high-speed metabolism.” On their nightly walks home in the village of Ysternia, the artists heard the owl, a reminder that natural time will always reign.

Cathryn Drake