Her works are posing questions with regard to the biological, psychological and social origin of female subjectivity and the adventurous pathway that leads to the liberation of socially-invented notion of identity.
Her works may travel a lot, always finding a new home in private collections all over the world, but visual artist Rania Emmanouilidou has selected Thessaloniki as her permanent basis. This choice, almost a one-way option as she explains, was largely
determined by luck, as even before graduating from AUTh’s Faculty of Fine Arts her collaboration with Zina Athanassiadou Gallery, still going strong after a whole twenty years, kicked off. Another incentive was that she could easily move between her
house, her atelier, the university, the city’s galleries and museums. Most of all, though, Thessaloniki offers her a friendly environment, where she has raised her two children.
She studied at the School of Visual & Applied Arts of AUTh’s Faculty of Fine Arts, she is a co-founder of Les Yper Yper, a hybrid platform dedicated on the research and interconnection of the dynamics developed between arts, visual communication and design, she has worked as a set and costume designer in theater shows and performances, she has showcased six individual exhibitions and has taken part in various collective exhibitions both in Greece and abroad, while her works can be found in private collections in Greece, Sweden, the USA, Australia, Turkey, France, Belgium and elsewhere.
Her artistic scope includes painting, sculpture, video and installation, whereas she mostly focuses – both as an artist and as a researcher – on the creation of sustainable materials used later on in her works of art. Moreover, as an individual with concerns
and sensibilities, who is always in contact with the social and political reality, she aims through her works at engaging in a wider communication with the audience, while contributing to the formation of small-scale local communities for the coproduction of cultural activities, through workshops, speeches and multidisciplinary educational programmes.
Her works are to a large extent posing questions with regard to the biological, psychological and social origin of female subjectivity and the adventurous pathway that leads to the liberation of socially-invented notion of identity. This uncertainty as to the final outcome is also expressed in the title of the exhibition “Graceland. The triumph of an uncertain path”, hosted in 2023 at MOMus-Experimental Center for the Arts, in Thessaloniki.
In the exhibition’s core, for which Rania Emmanouilidou joined forces with Fani Boudouroglou and Evaggelia Psoma, one can detect the challenges faced by mankind in our times, the ever-growing inequalities, the return of the financial crisis, the transformation of climate change into climate crisis, the refugee drama, the uncontrollable side-effects of hi-tech evolution on a sociopolitical level, as well as the seeking of new models of biopolitics and bioethics. In order to converse with these issues, the three artists make use of materials assimilated by environment, such as crystals, bioplastic and rootstocks. “We don’t even know whether our works will be destroyed or not. If they will be decomposed, when and how they will be assimilated by nature, which is given the status of co-creator”. This uncertainty fascinates her, but most of all she is intrigued by the fact that these works, due to their materials, interact with the weather conditions.
“I take interest in the process of surprise and decay” she points out, while explaining that “one thing is for sure though; we cannot predict how long these works will last”. Nevertheless, their uncertain future does not trigger any feeling of futility inside of her. As she stresses, “nowadays we can no longer make a case for art masterpieces. We have no insight into what will be forgotten and what will secure its place in the history of art”.
Rania Emmanouilidou, ever since her years as a university student, she has owned an atelier, having also worked in primary and secondary education, while she is currently holding a teaching position at the Faculty of Fine Arts. The way she sees it, it is priceless to share one’s knowledge and enable each student to come into contact with the deeper aspects of the inner self. “Helping out each and every one to “convey” a part of the inner self and thoughts to a work of art is always a fascinating process.
Finding out their limits and potential”.
She does not refrain from expressing her dismay over the expulsion of art from the official school curriculum in Greece, making a rather unpleasant comparison with the situation abroad, where even in prestigious university faculties, such as Medicine,
students attend art classes. “Art can give a boost to practical dexterities, such as fine motor skill, but also contribute in fields such as creativity and the development of empathy. Even though art is often associated with a touch of elitism, it can still trigger something unique in each and every one of us, even producing minor social changes for the best”.
In the last few years she has shifted from painting and design towards sculpture, which she finds more appealing, as it encompasses the element of surprise through the creation and the intertwining of miscellaneous materials and methods, either from the contemporary beauty industry or “remnants” (natural, artificial, edible) of today’s capitalist society.
“In her works, ferocity and self-punishment, the elegant study of the appalling and the harshness of death are consistently counterbalanced by the phantasmagoric use of transformative imagery. Rania’s forms are fully aware of the dynamics born out of the union of anthropo-zoo-morphism. The hybrid is always endowed with this gift: it can rise above the bipolar human-made structures”, was the review on her works written by poet Vassilis Amanatidis.
Rania Emmanouilidou is calling it a wrap for 2023 with Art Athina, where she is nominated for the main award. Moreover, she will be taking part in a collective exhibition, while also preparing for an individual exhibition in Athens and getting ready for a collaboration within the framework of a theater performance, scheduled to hit the stage next May. From her standpoint, costume and set designing, even though allowing for much less spontaneity compared to a personal work of art, pose a great challenge, as the artist becomes a link in a bigger chain.
Rania Emmanouilidou has showcased six individual exhibitions: Graceland – The triumph of an uncertain path – Biennale 8, with Fani Boudouroglou and Lia Psomma (curated by Anna Mykoniati), MOMus-Experimental Center for the Arts, Thessaloniki, 2022 / Degeneration (curated by Marina Athanassiadou), Zina
Athanassiadou Gallery, Thessaloniki, 2019 / Dark Lighthouse (curated by Marina Athanassiadou), Zina Athanassiadou Gallery, Thessaloniki, 2014 / Orlando (curated by Lydia Chatziiakovou), MOMus-Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki, 2011 / Coitus Interruptus with Marianna Ignataki (curated by Marina Athanassiadou), Public Room, Skopje, 2009 / Untitled (curated by Sotirios Bahtsetzis), Zina Athanassiadou Gallery, Thessaloniki, 2008 / Symphony (curated by Thalia Stefanidou), Margaris Foundation, Amphilochia, Greece, 2003.
She has also taken part in collective exhibitions and projects both in Greece and abroad, such as: Museum of Modern Greek Suicide (curated by Maria Kenanidou & Samson Rakkas), 2022 / The Riot of The Wisdom Tooth (curated by Dimitris Ameladiotis & Giorgos Gerontidis), 2022 / The surreality of fear (curated by Aine Mickey & Christie O’Connor, BSB Gallery, New Jersey, USA / Feminism in the years of the Metapolitefsi (with Lola Totsiou and Sofia Karakantza), Thessaloniki Concert Hall, 2018 / “you: the elements”, MOMus, 2018 / Exulat (curated by Vassilis Amanatidis), Alaca Imaret, Thessaloniki, 2015 / Artist (curated by Thalia Stefanidou & Nikos Mykoniatis), Tuyap Centre, Istanbul, 2014 / Supermarket (curated by Lydia Chatziiakovou), Kulturhuset, Stockholm, 2013 / Hulda Festival (curated by Lydia Chatziiakovou), Greece-Malta, 2012 / The Beautiful is just the first degree of the Terrible (curated by Apostolos Kalfopoulos), MOMus, 2010 / Women Only-Beltsios Collection (curated by Sotirios Bahtsetzis), Margaris Foundation, Amphilochia, Greece, 2008 / Biennale 1 (curated by Areti Leopoulou), Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, 2007 / XII Biennale of young artists from Europe and the Mediterranean, Apulia, Italy, 2006.
Teaming up with Apostolos Rizos she has co-founded Les Yper Yper, a hybrid platform dedicated to the research and the interconnection of the dynamics developed between arts, visual communication and design. She has hosted and curated exhibitions, projects and residencies in collaboration with private and public bodies and institutions (TISF, ICTVC, Goethe Institut, Municipality of Torino-Italy, Municipality of Alberta-Canada). She has also presented seminars and workshops.
Moreover, she has worked as a costume and set designer in theater shows and performances (Wuthering Heights, directed by Simos Kakkalas, Horos Theatre Company / Restoration directed by Sofia Karakantza, MOMus).
*Τhe photos belong to Evdoxia Radi & Apostolos Rizos