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THE WASTELAND Comes to Undercurrent This Week

The exhibition runs January 18-23, 2022 at Undercurrent on 70 John Street in Brooklyn, NY. 

THE WASTELAND Comes to Undercurrent This Week

Undercurrent and Greece in USA present "Wasteland," an interactive performance-based ice and soil installation by visual artist Michalis Argyrou and performance artist Rafika Chawishe from January 18-23, 2022 at Undercurrent on 70 John Street in Brooklyn, NY.

"Wasteland" opened on Tuesday, January 18 and is viewable through Sunday, January 23, from 1-7PM daily. Undercurrent's gallery is transformed into a Wasteland, the floor covered in soil, buried objects, and a 3.5-ton ice sculpture entrapping a human figure created by Greek artist Michalis Argyrou. Attendees are encouraged to light a candle, aiding the melting process revealing and rebirthing the human figure what lies within.

On the closing date, January 23, from 11AM-7PM, Greek actress and performance artist Rafika Chawishe will present an 8-hour long-durational performance. Chawishe replaces the figure trapped in the ice with a live, naked human body, searching for meaning through multifold transformations and exploring the ever-changing nature of politics, society, and identity inspired by figures in T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land. While digging through the soil and icy remains, Chawishe unmasks false stereotypes and patterns humans use as a cloak to conceal fears conform to societal norms. Chawishe enacts the roles people portray in a lifetime through colorful costumes and makeup, only to discover the only one that matters is the true self. Preoccupied with ideas about transformation and ridicule, she tests the audience's acceptance of the incongruous and unfamiliar to the limit.

"Wasteland" echoes themes from T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land on the 100th anniversary of one of the most iconic poems of the 20th century. The poem examines the decline of outdated certainties that held society together and what occurs when they shatter. There is no turning back, only transformation of those broken cultural fragments into something new.

Michalis Argyrou says the conceptual framework of the installation is: "The wish for the transformation of a dead soul, helpless flesh, hidden in the frozen shell of normality in a deserted barren place without real life. A rebirth of existence. The participation of people in the rebirth of existence is decisive. The acceptance of a common reality weakens the frozen normality."

"My friend, blood shaking in my heart/ The awful daring of a moment's surrender/ Which an age of prudence can never retreat/ By this and this only we have existed/ A secret which is not to be found in our obituaries/ Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider/ Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor/ In our empty rooms"--Excerpt from "What the Thunder Said" from T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land

"Wasteland" is the inaugural project of the new program Greece NOW by the non-profit organization Greece in USA. Greece NOW showcases Greek artists who explore themes of "nowness" in their oeuvre, how it relates to social ramifications in the digital age, and how "nowness" relates to "newness" of aesthetic forms, modes of production, discourse, performance, technology, ecology, economy, and politics. The selected artists of Greece NOW utilize their artistic practice to envision new social actions and forms of community to imagine new worlds to overcome global concerns.

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