Momu & No Es,
Wedding Invitation
This wedding invitation in a digital format is inspired by the aesthetic and sensuous pleasures of the digital realm and contains the playfulness of a wedding mixed with with the provocation of the uses of the symbols. And it is a wink towards the art practice of our friend Fotini.

Momu & No Es

, animated gif, 2014



Renkonto is the Esperanto word for an encounter. It is the title of an art project initiated by Fotini Gouseti and actively supported by her partner, non-artist Oliver Bozinovski. Renkonto functioned as a temporary, positive, and joyful meeting point — a happy encounter with actual people from neighboring countries who happen to have intense diplomatic relation.

In order to make this shared space manifest, a wedding celebration was created to orientate the projects claim. The event was materialized in Krusevo, was made in three parts, and lasted three days. In cooperation with Obsessive Possessive Aggression (O.P.A), an initial meeting made up of artists from both countries took place. An open party in the center of Krusevo concluded the whole event.

1. The wedding, as both a personal moment and a socio-cultural gesture, carries a broad historical symbolism for bringing together individuals, families, societies and contexts. The ceremonial tradition contained within all elements of weddings, creates social and cultural responsibilities for not only the couple, but also families and friends. That is to say, it is assumed that an agreement of social respect for the other is implied by marriage, as a union and a celebration made in public. The whole notion of the wedding is interpreted positively. To have a wedding, implies it will be handled by society positively as a precious moment. The wedding, in this particular case, turns out to be an artistic medium.

Renkonto is precisely not a performance, but is a public gesture extending beyond the event itself, supporting a sphere of human interaction located in celebration. Giorgio Agamben’s early book Infancy and History – The Destruction of Experience contains Notes on Gesture that is perhaps useful in understanding the artwork Renkonto as an ethical claim, supporting a particularly human form of interaction. Agamben assumes that:

"What characterizes gesture is that in it there is neither production nor enactment, but undertaking and supporting. In other words, gesture opens the sphere of ethos as the most fitting sphere of the human. But in what way is an action undertaken and supported? In what way does a res become res gesta, a simple fact become an event? Varro's distinction between facere and agere derives, in the final analysis, from Aristotle. In a famous passage from the Nicomachean Ethics, he contrasts them thus: 'Action [praxis] and production [poiesis] are generically different. For production aims at an end other than itself; but this is impossible in the case of action, because the end is merely to do what is right."

Fotini Gouseti and Oliver Bozinovski decided to get married, requesting that Gouseti’s family cross the actual border as well as the issues this implies. The glorious religious ritual is the only support for the ethical claim of Renkonto, as the marriage has no legal recognition or registration. The wedding only exists, as such, within the familiar tradition of spiritual rites.

2. The second aspect of Renkonto was a three-day artists meeting bringing together similarities and differences from neighboring art scenes, opening a space for fruitful dialogue. This dialogue needed to occur in this way, as because of the existing conditions, both societies and their art scenes are mostly ignorant of each other.

3. The third and concluding part of Renkonto was an open party taking place in the main square of Krusevo. At this moment, invited artists, guests, and a large number of locals, came together in order to celebrate the union of Gouseti and Bozinovski. The Japanese gipsy band Pyramidos, was invited from Tokyo to perform music and songs from both countries. The audience experienced native sounds from a band displaced from their culture.

Renkonto challenges the boundaries between art and real life, using the personal union to challenge the negative connotations implied in relations between neighboring countries (who happen to have intense diplomatic tension). What happens when you personally meet the one that you have learned not to like?

Artists participating with their works: Maria Ikonomopoulou, Witta Tjan, Momu & No Es, Chara Drandaki, Eden Mitsenmacher Tordjman
Artists participating in the artists meeting: Vladimir Janchevski, Vassilis Noulas, Sofia Grigoriadou, Obsessive Possessive Aggression, Kostas Tzimoulis, Ana Lazarevska, Ioanna Hatzipanigyri, Filip Jovanovski, Fotini Gouseti.

Renkonto is a financially independent project with no institutional affiliation. Different aspects of Renkonto have being generously supported throughout in a variety of ways. Fotini Gouseti and Oliver Bozinovski want to express their sincere gratitude to their families and friends for their invaluable support; Alpha Domiki for supporting the travel costs of Pyramidos’ from Japan; Orsalia Parthenis for the donation of the wedding dress; Parthenis, the Municipality of Krusevo for their kind permission to use the town square; the citizens of Krusevo; to Padraig Robinson for editorial work; and most importantly Rei Kakiuchi for the intellectual and organizational support.


           






Photo credits: Ioannis Protonotarios
Photo credits: Ana Lazarevska
Photo credits: Ana Lazarevska
Photo credits: OPA
Photo credits: OPA
Photo credits: Ioannis Protonotarios
Maria Ikonomopoulou,
Meeting Flowers
Meeting Flowers was inspired by the herbarium that Fotini made with the plants she had collected in the mountains of Kalavryta, the place where she met Oliver.

When I was asked to make the wedding crowns for Fotini and Oliver, I wanted to make a wreath with copies from Fotini’s herbarium. Since the marriage took place in Macedonia, where, following the tradition, the wedding crowns have the shape of crowns, I decided to use only one plant, chicory, the ‘king’ of wild plants in the Balkans. Men can easily find it in the mountains of both countries (Macedonia and Greece) and, as my mother told me, this plant can give you the healthy power you need.

Maria Ikonomopoulou

, print on cut out Hahnemühle paper, 2014. Photo credits: Ana Lazarevska
Photo credits: Ana Lazarevska
Photo credits: Ana Lazarevska
Photo credits: Foto Dano
Photo credits: OPA
Chara Drandaki,
HAEMUS
In Haemus the act of writing is incorporated to the process of object making. Using language as a primal artistic material, relationships between words, letters, the surrounding public space and the physical presence of visitors, are investigated with references to site-specificity and the anthropometric scale. With sharp cutting tools and soft-clay an object-like clay alphabet is created, 'rewriting' manually narratives. A text is composed of fragments taken from folk song versions of one common story in regard to homeland that appears in Balkan countries (the Greek version: 'The Dead Brother's Song' and that of F.Y.R.O.M.: 'An apple tree grew'). The Greek song is translated to the language of F.Y.R.O.M. and vice versa, creating an interweaving of texts and alphabets in the urban landscape. An inverse transformation emerges, from digital to manual, while the time-consuming process of creation merges with the time put by the viewer to view-read the work.

Concurrently, the work is destined to gradual transformation due to interaction with the passengers. There is no restriction in regard to walking on the piece which literally covers an urban passage. Visitors might move letters altering meanings or take some home. The 'annihilation' of the original text results to the appearance of traces of human activities. An imaginary spatial palimpsest occurs through the accumulation and synchronous existence of traces of crossings and actions realized in different past moments. The deconstruction of the text challenges the communicating purpose of language, visualising the fragility that characterizes the dialogue between the two regions: the signs that appear, without enabling decipherments, oscillate between the limits of legible and illegible. Cryptography is revealed as a key component of the work, giving rise to a cryptic alphabet, a galaxy of impenetrable signs and traces, revealing both the materiality of language and the opacity at its core (Gilman, 2011).

, white clay, 2014. Photo credits: OPA
Photo credits: Ana Lazarevska
Photo credits: OPA
Photo credits: Kiki Petratou
Photo credits: OPA
Photo credits: Kiki Petratou
Photo credits: OPA
Photo credits: Foto Dano
Photo credits: Foto Dano
Photo credits: OPA
Photo credits: Foto Dano
Photo credits: Foto Dano
Photo credits: Foto Dano
Eden Mitsenmacher Tordjman,
White Confetti
White Confetti is the result of my request to Eden Mitsenmacher Tordjman to play with the element of the traditional wedding customs in both countries, as well as with the curiosity of each side’s guests to experience the other side’s customs and traditions. This artwork combines similar customs observed in the two cultures involved, namely the custom of throwing the newly-weds a mix of rise and rose petals and the custom of throwing the newly-weds a mix of wheat, candies and coins. Mitsenmacher chose the form of a piñata, filled with popcorn, coconut powder and small pieces of paper in different shapes. This artwork took place in the form of an open-air public performance.

Fotini Gouseti

, mixed media, 2014. Photo credits: Kiki Petratou
Photo credits: Foto Dano
Photo credits: Kiki Petratou
Photo credits: Kiki Petratou
Photo credits: Kiki Petratou
Photo credits: Kiki Petratou
Photo credits: Sofia Georgiadou
Photo credits: Foto Dano
Photo credits: OPA
Photo credits: Kiki Petratou
Photo credits: Ana Lazarevska
Photo credits: Foto Dano
Photo credits: OPA
Photo credits: Foto Dano
Photo credits: Ana Lazarevska
Photo credits: Foto Dano
Photo credits: Foto Dano
Photo credits: Ana Lazarevska
Photo credits: Ana Lazarevska
Photo credits: Ana Lazarevska
Photo credits: Foto Dano
Photo credits: Foto Dano
Photo credits: Ana Lazarevska
Photo credits: Sotiris Gousetis
Photo credits: Ana Lazarevska
Photo credits: Ana Lazarevska