For several decades now, contemporary artists have been perceiving their position and discourse through the lens of a multiple, polysemous role, rich in social and political connotations. This viewpoint has led not only to the emergence of archive-based art, represented here by Vangelis Vlahos, and the concept of the artist as a researcher-sociologist-anthropologist, but also to various other forms of hybrid art, which include collaborative and technological projects, public space interventions and direct involvement with activism and politics.
The works by Vangelis Vlahos exhibited in the Biennale focus on the socio-political history of the Balkans, seen through the traumatic experience of the Yugoslav Wars and the involvement of Greek political powers. From the meeting between Konstantinos Mitsotakis and Dora Bakoyannis with Slobodan Milosevic, in May 1999, in Belgrade, and the various recorded conversations on the Kosovo crisis, to the hat frequently wore by former Bosnian-Serb general Ratko Mladić, and the Greek funding for the renovation of the Parliament building in Sarajevo, the artist presents materials which are, indeed, archival but also feature his own intervention and artistic approach, thereby raising the issue of how artists and audiences can process events from recent history.
Although his works may be labeled as picture, document and model archives, the artist never conducts field-based research nor does he substitute his own artistic capacity for that of the historian; he always approaches his case-study from the distance of mediated news derived from the Internet or the media. In this way, he comments on and subverts not just historical research and the celebrated (but clearly non-existent) “objectivity”, but also the audience’s expectations of an exhibition, given that viewers are anxious to believe anything presented to them in the form of an archive as the indisputable, ultimate truth.
MOMus-Museum of Contemporary Art-Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art and State Museum of Contemporary Art Collections