Dafni Barbageorgopoulou « ZZOT »

Goldrausch Künstlerinnenprojekt art IT, Berlin 2012, 36 pages, ill., 22.8 x 16.5 cm, Softcover, English/German, ISBN 978-3-941318-38-0

Goldrausch Künstlerinnenprojekt art IT, Berlin 2012, 36 pages, ill., 22.8 x 16.5 cm, Softcover, English/German, ISBN 978-3-941318-38-0

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<strong>Dafni</strong> <strong>Barbageorgopoulou</strong>’s Art<br />

In every larger railway station there is a shop<br />

with “International Press”. However, which<br />

newspapers are international? The Englishlanguage<br />

ones? Many people living in Berlin<br />

are not able to read the popular Berlin Der<br />

Tagesspiegel. The numerous international<br />

artists who are in town for a scholarship or<br />

who have settled here often speak no German<br />

at all, or very little, even after years of living<br />

here. This is due to the lack of opportunity<br />

to practice. There are usually so many people<br />

at larger events in Berlin who do not understand<br />

German that one tends to automatically<br />

speak English.<br />

Those who have<br />

a newspaper in<br />

front of them<br />

but are not able<br />

to decipher the<br />

text still read it<br />

as an “image”:<br />

as a more or less<br />

abstract ensemble<br />

of headlines, text<br />

blocks, pictures,<br />

and graphic<br />

elements. Those who are not familiar with<br />

semaphore in the international maritime<br />

signal flag system will admire the colourful,<br />

diverse colours and geometric patterns as a<br />

purely aesthetic phenomenon, without knowing<br />

what messages are being exchanged.<br />

The signal system equivalent of the sequence<br />

of letters “<strong>ZZOT</strong>”, for example, means more<br />

or less “Attention! Watch out!”, a message<br />

that newspaper headlines also seek to convey.<br />

In the series <strong>ZZOT</strong> from 2012, <strong>Dafni</strong> <strong>Barbageorgopoulou</strong><br />

employs the exposed metal<br />

printing plates used to print the pages of the<br />

<strong>ZZOT</strong> series, 2012, maritime signal flag system,<br />

aluminium newspaper offset plates, 110 x 320 cm<br />

Tagesspiegel. The plates have been cut or<br />

mounted over one another and turned into<br />

wall reliefs. The geometric shapes are based<br />

on the semaphore motif “<strong>ZZOT</strong>”. There are<br />

also variations in which single plates have<br />

been leant aslant on a newspaper stand. The<br />

artist simultaneously superimposes two<br />

information systems that quasi interfere and<br />

intersect with one another.<br />

<strong>Dafni</strong> <strong>Barbageorgopoulou</strong> has always been<br />

interested in abstract patterns and ornaments.<br />

However she does not follow the<br />

trend towards “new abstraction” 1 and she is<br />

not a “formalist”, 2 like many contemporary<br />

artists who simply<br />

recompose<br />

the vocabulary<br />

of figurative<br />

Modernism. The<br />

formal elements<br />

incorporated<br />

into her works<br />

that fill entire<br />

walls, spraypainted<br />

on rolls<br />

of bast weave,<br />

hand-stitched,<br />

or folded as floor<br />

sculptures comprised of two-dimensional<br />

shapes, originate from very different contexts.<br />

The large installation Bright Pointed<br />

Arch from 2010 is characteristic of the<br />

artist’s approach. Structures such as Gothic<br />

church windows, floor plans of skyscrapers<br />

in Singapore, patterns for items of clothing,<br />

and plans for models of spaceships provide<br />

the source for the formal vocabulary, which<br />

has been incorporated into a floor assembly<br />

made up of wooden elements. The installation<br />

also includes a roll of bast weave mounted<br />

on the wall, hand-stitched for the most<br />

part with red and white rhombuses. The way<br />

they are presented is reminiscent of fabric<br />

sold by the metre and the pattern evokes the<br />

ornamental elements in Indian clothing.<br />

To us, the diverse range of forms with which<br />

cultures unfamiliar to us decorate their<br />

clothes and objects are equally as “abstract”<br />

as the construction plans for airplanes or<br />

spaceships are for laypeople. Abstract does<br />

not describe something non-figurative but<br />

everything whose meaning we don’t understand.<br />

In our globalized world too, there is<br />

scarcely anything that is as universally readable<br />

as the pictogrammes in international<br />

airports. How do we read a newspaper in a<br />

language we are not familiar with? How do<br />

we deal with visual forms that we encounter<br />

every where where we are not “at home”, and<br />

which have their specific meaning, their<br />

practical value in these places, which we<br />

perceive, however, without any knowledge<br />

of the “context”?<br />

<strong>Dafni</strong> <strong>Barbageorgopoulou</strong>’s art brings together<br />

“abstract” shapes and patterns, which<br />

she takes from the different contexts, in<br />

spatial and also physically experienceable<br />

ensembles. Instead of specifying the original<br />

meanings as “references”, the forms and<br />

symbols used are linked together in a hybrid<br />

way and are subsequently given the potential<br />

for new codification. In this way, <strong>Barbageorgopoulou</strong>’s<br />

art can be compared to the approach<br />

described by Claude Levi-Strauss as<br />

“bricolage”, or the reorganisation of symbols<br />

and events to form new structures. <strong>Dafni</strong><br />

<strong>Barbageorgopoulou</strong> belongs to the group of<br />

contemporary artists who have made it their<br />

task to piece together our world, which is<br />

becoming increasingly more complex at least<br />

on a formal level, quasi in the form of a radically<br />

reduced model. Her installations are<br />

like spaceships of the mind and it is certainly<br />

no coincidence that they are inspired by<br />

models of spaceships that can be assembled<br />

at home.<br />

1 Sven Drühl (ed.), Neue Abstraktion, Special topic<br />

in Kunstforum International, issue 206/2010.<br />

2 Formalismus. Moderne Kunst, heute, Exh. cat.<br />

Kunstverein in Hamburg 2004.<br />

4<br />


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