Leda Papaconstantinou, Deaf and Dumb, 1971 / Performance. Maidstone College of Art, Maidstone, and public sites, London, UK / Courtesy of the artist / Photo Roy Tunniclife
Leda Papaconstantinou: Time In My Hands. A Retrospective
Dec 14, 2023 – Apr 21, 2024
EMST
Athens, Greece

Time in my hands represents the first ever major retrospective exhibition for Leda Papaconstantinou (b. 1945), one of the most important artists in the history of contemporary art in Greece. For over almost five decades, Papaconstantinou developed a diverse body of work that took on a range of forms – performance, sculpture, video, site-specific installations, painting, etc. – in order to explore issues of gender, sexuality, collective and personal memory, history, politics and ecology, centred always on the body. As a trailblazing feminist artist and one of the most important artists of her generation, Papaconstantinou’s work is a seminal reference point for the Greek art scene and serves as an inspiration for subsequent generations of artists.

From the 1960s onwards, at a time of social and cultural radicalism, Papaconstantinou was one of the first artists to experiment with the then-emerging medium of performance art. Her first iconoclastic performances, carried out during her studies in England, investigate the construction of gender, identity and the female subject, through a feminist perspective that challenges patriarchal structures and other hierarchical relationships of power. The exhibition includes her films and performances from the 1968–1971 period, her first installations in Greece in the 1970s and 1980s, the 1975–1979 community theatre group “Spetses Players”, and her large-scale video installations of recent years. It aims to showcase and reframe pertinent issues within her art practice concerning gender, identity, the social dimension of the artwork, memory, and the relationship between discourse and corporality.

The exhibition is an appraisal of her entire oeuvre, bringing together for the first time a large number of installations, paintings, sculptures, audio-visual and audio works, as well as rare and unpublished photographic and textual archival documents and traces of her performances, highlighting the importance and timely character of her practice, in its own time but also today. The title Time in my Hands derives from the site-specific installation of the same name, created by the artist in 2010 for the Monastiraki Metro station, which was based on a photograph of the video entitled The Arrows are of Eros, and projected onto a wall of the Ottoman baths of Bey Hamam in Thessaloniki.

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