The protection of a human being from manipulated audiovisual stimuli becomes a constant act of resistance, an utterly political stance

Eleni Fotiadou

Perfection is not humanlike

Text: Dimitra Kehagia
Eleni Fotiadou

She speaks words of passion for law, arts, traveling, the surpassing of every fear, but most of all for mankind, always opting for a happy end rather than “sorrow just for the sake of sorrow”. Eleni Fotiadou shares her life between the science of law and art. She is a PhD holder on Constitutional Law (Paris II – Panthéon), having worked as a human rights lawyer, after receiving further specialization in LSE (Women’s Human Rights). Moreover, she has graduated from AUTh’s Faculty of Fine Arts, where she held a teaching position at a later stage, having concluded her postgraduate studies in Wimbledon College of Arts (UAL) and Slade School of Fine Arts (UCL – Julian Sullivan Award).

Even though she refrains from conjoining her two fields of expertise, one can’t help but to inspire the other. As a result, bits and pieces from her work as a lawyer ended up being showcased in museums, galleries and public spaces. Over the last years, Eleni Fotiadou has added new research interests in her arsenal: she is a postdoctoral researcher, also teaching courses at AUTh’s Laboratory of Hygiene, Social & Preventive Medicine and Medical Statistics, focusing on issues pertaining to the effect of noise pollution on human physiology, public health and the patients’ rights.

“It’s within the scope of humanities studies. In many foreign universities art classes are mandatory even in medical schools, not only for “purposes of knowledge and mental fulfillment” of the student, but mainly because research has proven that art enforces empathy,” she explains. “I’m at my best when I’m helping my fellow human beings, not out of philanthropy of course, but driven by my education and cultivation”, she points out, making clear that she has set out to defend others in any possible way. “Whatever dystopia I’m faced up against from time to time is an outcome of my choices. I’m experiencing the consequences of my choices and I hold no regret whatsoever.”

Eleni Fotiadou is appalled by any form of dependance from circles of power and control and by any kind of intimidation, as “in a society ruled by fear, where the transcendental is replaced by fear-mongering as society’s pathology and subconscious fear is systematically used as a means of repression, the protection of a human being from manipulated audiovisual stimuli becomes a constant act of resistance, an utterly political stance,” she stresses out, aligning herself with the view of the French intellectual André Marlaux, who once wrote that “true artists do not imitate life; they become its adversaries”.

Within the research framework of the correlation between Public Law, Public Art and Public Health, she hosts exhibitions mostly in public spaces and museums, among which Strasbourg’s European Parliament. In the words of the Thessaloniki-born artist, “art becomes politics lato sensu when it succeeds in triggering the audience’s alertness, drawing its attention away from the and self-indulgent and neatly organized structure of everyday life, urging it to react against an forced lethargic apathy, transforming it from a passive consumer of images into an active and functional participant, inciting it to consciously resist against an imposed and elitist aesthetical uniformity, convincing it to sacrifice a little part of its time by interactively and creatively engaging with the work of art, as a direct counterbalance of the artist’s agony,” she goes on to say.

“The non-functional aspects of technology are inherently linked to the conceptual and political concerns of my work. The machinery I use consists of out-of-commerce objects, disposed of or given away. They are mostly remnants of a past technological era, more relatable and easy-to-use, reflecting the aesthetic of their Eastern European origins. Toys, once functional domestic blunders adjusted through gimmicks to the new needs, amateur analog cameras, stereoscopic photo cameras and projectors. These objects are rarely of any professional use nowadays and it is through a process of familiarization that they transform from reconstructed components into humanized objects of art. The raucousness, the randomness and the rawness end up shaping the work through a violent battle between the idea and and the material, as the audience is asked to operate the makeshift machines, the flashlights and the moving metallic or plastic parts of the works in a non-real time frame. This way, the audience is briefly given the role of the co-creator.”

The audience, in one of her works, sets in motion an old children’s projector and watches a 35mm film by riding a bike. In another work, we stereoscopically watch an image moving onto a crystal through a magnifying glass. In another case, we watch an image dancing in a super 8 floating projection. “I am fond of the low-tech byproducts, not only in terms of aesthetic, but also as an indication of complicity and companionship: perfection is not humanlike,” argues the artist before adding that “the excessive diffusion of imagery triggers the audience’s saturation, as it slides into apathy. Interaction is a means of alertness and participation.” Her motto is “fill your soul and give yourself to anything you love,” while her wish for the future is no other than to “decide who we are and fight for this decision”.