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September 18, 2022
This Week’s Paper
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NEW YORK – Eirini Linardaki’s latest work, a New York City Parks public art installation titled ‘Εγειραν – Raised_The Floating Playground is on view through the spring of 2023 at Owl’s Head Park in Brooklyn. Created with the collaboration of Vincent Parisot, Raised_ The Floating Playground is an assemblage between handmade rafts and playground toys. Inspired by the Park’s position overlooking New York Bay, the sculpture reflects on migration by sea and humankind’s inherent nomadic condition. Linardaki draws inspiration from her childhood playtime, creating vessels from household objects, referring to family displacement at a crossroad between ephemeral construction and a life-altering journey.
The project, which opened to the public on July 19, was created under the auspices of the Hellenic Republic, Ministry of Culture and Sports, with the support of The Red Sand Project, https://redsandproject.org, and Shim Art Network, https://www.shhhim.com.
Linardaki expressed her thanks to NYC Parks and especially to Elizabeth Masella, Senior Public Art Coordinator who worked on this project with her for five years. She also expressed “special thanks to Eleni Riga for her support and expertise throughout this project” and to “the contributors who participated in the crowdfunding effort since 2018: Edith Parisot, Margaret Tsirantonakis, Argie Agelarakis, Olga Alexakos, Shani Ha, Katherine Bradford, Kevin O’Neill (and for site visits in my absence), Stefania Kalogeraki, Karen Randall (teacher from Fort Hamilton High School and students who inspired me for this project), Marianne Barzilay, David Thomson, Michele Butchko (and for support during production), François Tusseki, Louise Devin, Martha Lyroni, Annik Alder, Barbara Noiret, and Richie Moore who assisted me immensely in the installation.”
Eleni Riga, Independent Curator, wrote: “Eirini Linardaki introduces a new series of installations made of faux marble under the title Raised – the floating playground at The Owl’s Head Park in Brooklyn following an invitation from the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation.”
“The symbol of the raft holds tremendous importance in art history,” Riga continued. “The first thing that comes to mind is the emblematic painting by the French artist Théodore Géricault, The Raft of the Medusa. Painted in 1816, it refers to the aftermath of the wreck of a French naval frigate that was heading to today’s Mauritania and ran aground due to the captain’s incompetence. Only 15 people out of the 147 onboard a hurriedly constructed raft survived. This painting has influenced numerous artists, among them Martin Kippenberger, Bill Viola, and Frank Stella. The raft has been appropriated by artists in different ways to emphasize hope, loss, or despair over time. Not only has the meaning changed but also the form.”
“Internet research – similar to the one Eirini Linardaki has undertaken – proves that the form and the material of the raft have changed significantly over time, depending on what resources have been available.”
“You can make anything float, even cement,” Linardaki told Riga during one of their conversations.
“The raft seems to have accompanied Linardaki for a long time since she was still a student in the South of France,” Riga noted. “It is a rather basic structure: a square or rectangular base with a beam and a sail. Nevertheless, people keep deconstructing these elements and adjusting them to ensure they will float and sail. Some of them seem to hold together on people’s faith alone.”
“Moreover, the raft is one of the vehicles we have available to reach dry land somewhat safely,” Riga wrote. “This installation celebrates maritime immigration route ingenuity. Some rafts are able to float only for the duration of the crossing. Here, the rafts Linardaki has made from drawers, chairs, and balls suggest a feeling of the domestic. The artist wishes to encourage everyone to “anchor” their personal and collective stories on these works. Also, the DIY character of the rafts refers to our capacity to make our own home anywhere and carry it with us, as well as within us.”
“To understand Linardaki’s work, it is necessary to go back to her childhood: she draws inspiration from her memories, whether it is the floral sheets her mother used to wrap her in after her nightly bath or the everyday objects she used to make imaginary constructions, castles, barricades or vehicles,” Riga continued. “Linardaki has repeated many times that ‘my childhood is my only country.’ So, it comes as no surprise when she integrates the notion of the game into her sculptures.”
“Balloons casually appear as a part of her composition, laying on the lower part of the sculptures and adding a welcoming tone,” Riga noted. “Her choice of materials is in line with her intentions: the faux marble, made from a mix of small marble debris, stone powder, sand, cement, etc., desacralizes this classical sculptural material and interrogates the way we inscribe histories and memories. Linardaki favors phenomenological experience, meaning lived experience and feelings that are both unique to each person and universal, addressing the ‘human condition.’”
“Furthermore, to create a deeper understanding of Linardaki’s work, it is worth mentioning that she lives between two islands: Crete in Greece and Manhattan in New York,” Riga pointed out. “The ‘islander spirit’ contains two seemingly contrasting characteristics: on one hand, it seeks mobility and connectivity – there is evidence of ancient seafaring across the Aegean Sea dating as far back as the eighth millennium BCE; while at the same time it encourages a strong sense of belonging to the island and a distinct cultural identity proven by archaeology, art and history. Islands are both divided from the mainland and connected to it by water.”
“All in all, Linardaki wishes to use the raft as a metaphorical vehicle, encouraging all visitors to find new meaning in their everyday walks, in mundane things or activities at the park,” Riga wrote. “Their joyful character is a reminder that childhood is a state of mind where we observe things for the first time with curiosity and an open heart.”
More information is available online: https://www.linardaki-parisot.com/about-6.
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