for the exhibition "The Big Mosaic".
curated by Charalambos Margarites
a project of the European Capital of Culture, PAFOS2017.
On the night of the 6th of September 1955 in Istanbul, under the unofficial guidance of the Turkish authorities, a raging crowd attacked the Greek inhabitants of the city. In the pogrom that followed, numerous homes and shops were vandalized and burnt, churches and cemeteries desecrated, while hundreds (if not thousands) of rapes - and similar cases of violence - took place. At least thirty people died. The attack was disastrous for the Greek community of the city.
Nergis Arzuman, an Armenian woman living in Istanbul, tells a story of that period to her granddaughter, who is living, today, in Paphos. She, herself, remembers and tells the story in 2017. The memory is not clear, something faded with the passing of time, something was erased in the narration and lost in translation. One thing is sure: it has to do with doors and a red cross.
One version of the story is that the Turkish had averted the Armenians to paint a red cross on their doors, so as they would not be bothered by the attackers.
The other version tells the opposite: the cross was a target, and indicated which houses belonged to Greeks.
Yiannis Sakellis, based on photographs of Istanbul, creates a series of drawings presented as an installation with pieces of wood, broken objects, left overs and evidences of a catastrophe. The doors, drawing in charcoal, put the ones next to the others in a semi-circle, envelope the spectator, who becomes a witness in the crime scene of history.
Following the imprecise traces of memory and narration, the artist recomposes the structural elements of a story inscribed in the heart of a tragedy. Sakellis’ doors, drawn on charcoal, broken, rusty and abandoned, are standing as tomb stones. A dialogue occurs between the drawn ruins of the two-dimensional surface of the paper and the real-life ruins spread on the floor next to them - a dialogue that reminds one of the physical relationship between the memory (true in its imprecision) and the reality that cannot be put aside, even if one choses to ignore it.
The echo of the biblical plague pervades the work and the only thing left is the aporia, this fundamental loss of certainty, security and knowledge of basic details