Interview by Marietta Kontogianni for JEWELRYbox magazine
Visiting Hours/Meet the Artist: 19.00-22.00
Cine Trianon, 21 Kodrigktonos Str & 101 Patission Av.Athens, Greece
An amazing, inspiring exhibition, a wonderful journey around the world.
Nautical charts, cargo ships, cities as memory stations in the form of brooches, earrings, pendants and monoprints. The smell of tobacco and Chios mastic gum, precious silver, woods from boat wrecks, sea and salt.
Kalliopi Andrikopoulou‘s “Memory Mapping” contemporary jewelry and objects solo exhibition, curated by ZLR Betriebsimperium Hamburg (Christoph Ziegler+Loukia Richards), is on view till the 10th of May at the foyer of Cine Trianon -a place related to the mind travels anyway. And it is a lot more than a simple art show. It is an invitation to a journey around the world, through the sensitive and emotional storytelling of the talented artist.
Kalliopi Andrikopoulou is a jewelry artist and a teacher. She was a co-founder in 2007 and the latest director of SYN APEIRON, an alternative jewelry school that unfortunately doesn’t exist anymore.
She also has the talent to tell inspiring stories. Jewelry stories based on real or imaginary maps, which show she is a person with a synthetic way of thinking, who knows how to conflate narration with an interactive game and fantasy with the emotions that come from her personal life experiences. She makes the viewer-listener, and ultimately wearer of her jewelry, become her travel companion in the journey of her own life.
Personally speaking, I have to admit that during my “travelling” with Kalliopi, I wasn’t quite sure if I was visiting an exhibition or watching a film at the cinema’s nearby projection room. The only thing I know is that I let myself go, I relaxed and I had a great time!
Our voyage began from the former commercial port of Kardamila, on the north of the Aegean island of Chios, place of origin for Kalliopi’s family. We “embarked” in a miniature cargo ship-pin inspired by its hatches, made of silver and painted in the colors of rust. Anchored in the middle of a large nautical world chart, it waited for us to “steer” our course with a pen and a ruler. Kalliopi invites me to become a ship-owner. I can buy a ship, name it, chose a cargo and set it off to its virgin voyage. This is an interactive game Kalliopi created to soothe the memory of the pain she was feeling, due to the absence of her parents, when they were on voyage in cargo ships. “I was looking on the globe to see where my parents might be”, she says. And just before we leave the “port” she shows me a collage of family pictures and tells me the story of her family: Both her mother and father, her grandpa and great-grandparents, all were seamen and had been scouring the seven seas for years. Their lives, as well as the life of Kalliopi and her brother, who were longing for their parent’s returning from their voyages around the world, are all salty.
Kalliopi herself has travelled around the world 3 times as a kid, while on a cargo ship with her parents for 14 months! “I don’t remember a lot of things, though, only smells. That’s why all through my life I am longing to travel and get to know cities and people around the world”.
And then she starts showing me the jewelry maps she has created inspired by places that left a permanent trace in her memory, when she grew up and started doing her own trips worldwide. She has a different story to tell for each jewelry map. On the necklace-map called “Kardamila” she shows me her mother’s and her father’s houses. “They both come from the same village” she explains to me. The other necklace-map called “Mainz” reminds her that this city changed her whole life. It was after staying there through the Erasmus exchange program that she decided to give up a Lawyer’s career- having graduated from the Law School of the University of Athens- to become a jeweler. She then studied at Mokume jewelry school in Athens and later on she took specific courses at the Alchimia Jewellery School of Florence. On the brooch-map called “Keramikos” she shows me where “Syn Apeiro” was.
Her memories are bittersweet like life itself. They make me feel excited and really touch my heart. But we don’t stop here. We keep on going and now Kalliopi is showing me a series of imaginary maps. Maps of cities she doesn’t have the slightest memory of and of imaginary places without names. Her intention is to let the viewers imagine and name the place they want to travel to.
And then we go back in the real world once again , in cities like New York, London, Munich, and Cordoba. Kalliopi remembers her trip to Spain. She visited Spain as a backpacker with a friend of hers and they travelled around the Iberian Penisnula, eating only “plastic cheese and tomato” for a month! At this point, I remember my own travels to Spain, a country I love deeply. A flamenco melody comes out of the cinema’s loudspeakers. Kalliopi keeps on showing me jewelry inspired by Spanish cities and both our memories are getting mixed up together.
In the end, I am holding an imaginary map-monoprint of Terragona in one hand and a postcard with the 5 year old Kalliopi on a cargo ship, in the other. Then I find myself writing in an authentic Captain’s Journal, putting down my impressions of this amazing travel, a real aspiration of the soul, that just ended. Or did it just begin?
The exhibition is part of the art series “One Artist A Week/Artist In Residence at Cine Trianon” which is organised in the context of the “Victoria Square Project” by US artist Rick Lowe for
#Documenta14Athens. Don’t miss it!