Threat and threatened
The threatening monuments of our times probably do not differ from those that might be created during times of a real war. War inhabits the “homes” of most aware people—with both the positive and negative aspects implicit in such a nature—whether they have experienced it or not as their antennae can detect war in nearby or faraway places as well as in others’ memories.
Devastation doesn’t remain only in the ruins nor does it end with restoration. This was evident in the Anselm Kiefer retrospective in Berlin two years ago (which won’t be forgotten through such a work) but was also experienced at Dimitris Tragkas’s exhibition work, media, or results, between the global art of our times and our own Dimitris Tragkas, who is not of minor importance but still at the start of his course. Nevertheless—and here I refer to Kiefer’s work—I felt the desperation that rises from devastation, or rather the feeling of desperation, through the same whiff emanating from Tragkas’s room if you enter it and allow yourself to be enveloped by the tarred walls.
I start from that feeling which, firstly, measures the interest someone has in experiencing a work and either retaining something from it or sidestepping it. From that point forth, we’re not dealing with the discovery of the wheel but with the world of a person who wants us to share his personal fear and achieves this with familiar means imbued with effort and thought. Furthermore, it is consistent with this earlier work, whose evolution is this piece.
Tragkas invades a space with a threatening phallic symbol sculpted from fiberglass, tar, and tar paper and which he calls “Zeppelin”. It’s the same media he has used in the past. From the black frames in which he created his world—and which we described as two-dimensional because he limited himself to a single framework—he now creates a three-dimensional shape. In essence, he created space in the past too, while if one overlooks the suspended “Zeppelin” and instead remains fixed on his work on the gallery walls, one will find oneself close to Tragkas’s old canvasses who now acquire the delusion of perspective.
The threatening image (although we should bear in mind that an image doesn’t always correspond to the emotion it evokes) is heightened by the iron bars that enclose the space and “Zeppelin”, leaving the viewer outside—or, for those who enter its space (do not feel compelled to do this unless you feel comfortable in a worksite) leaves outside the security of the existing world, at least that of central Athens as Sarajevo is not too far removed from our country or our lives.
The physical presence of Dimitris Tragkas’s work corresponds to an essential moment where the work’s image is betrayed by the emotion of its content, leading to the conclusion that it arose from the need in which mind and body participated equally as Tragkas created with his own hands this dangerous game which he set up in order to win.
Maria Maragou in the Athens daily Eleftherotypia, 6/12/1993