Dimitra Kondylatou: "Which dynamics constitute the artistic and touristic sites?"

Dimitra's 20 minute presentation for Maelstrom Slow Dance - DAI's 3 day graduation lectures marathon, June 2017



Dimitra Kondylatou begins by providing an introduction to her new video work and speaking about her art practice, which occupies different positions within art and tourism. This new work made with 3D-rendering offers multiple voices and perspectives on art and tourism and is closely connected to her research on the topic. Dimitra explains, “I run an artistic residential project, hosted and indirectly funded by the touristic guesthouse that I also run. This second case of sole-proprietorship business, often reminds me of the way in which a freelance artist, a self-managed individual, has to keep a box of assets updated and available for display.” Explaining that she is not only an artist, but also a tourist worker, artist on tour, tourist, artist hostess of artists, tourists and art tourists and so on, she says that she thus tries “to understand the relations between the two fields, as I find there are many; and especially because both involve cultural exchange and interaction. I sometimes wonder for how long and in which way can an idea or an action or a performance or a space remain active and generative before it is crystallized as a commodity. And even in this case, if, how and in which form it can keep its generative quality - if it ever had one - while being traded.” Her video “outlines the edges, vertices and faces of a box, constructed by three sites, five spoken and written voices and one reference in the history of art and representation.”

Ray Brassier found Dimitra’s carefully structured introduction and video extremely suggestive and thought-provoking. It brings up the idea of machinic enslavement (Foucault) where affectivity is engineered and controlled by operations of capital. For Brassier, “the film is astute about the degree to which what artists do, how they think and produce art is embedded in this relentless machinery of commodification,” yet he is unsure if, despite all this mediation, a source of resistance or escape even exists. “The mirror is no longer a straightforward reflecting surface but redistributes space that is internal to the painting and the viewer’s relationship to the painting.” Recalling Dimitra’s question: “could the cloud do what the mirror does?” he questions the nature of the cloud and asks whether this experience could be re-engineered from within in order to rearticulate the space. Going back to Dimitra’s question he asks if we need a theorization of art to get into this.

Reflecting on Dimitra’s question that thinks through art and tourism together, Gabi Ngcobo remarked that she often thinks about the “thin line between vocation and vacation. We think a lot about hospitality and producing different forms of it (as an artist).” Recalling the book, “Small Island” by Jamaica Kincaid, Ngcobo describes how when reading it, “you image that the islanders themselves really get a chance of becoming a tourist and how the islands themselves made it impossible to move from one island to another (without going to Miami first).” She asks what would be produced if Dimitra would “take distance, and allow for [her] questions to go sideways”, go where she has been or has not been.

Marina Vishmidt remarked that this lecture performance highlighted the proposition of the common dynamic between art and tourism, since both are focused on circulation. “Art is often talked about in terms of production, but putting it next to tourism brings out the circulation aspect.” Vishmidt elaborates on this point: “both artist and tourist are looking or an outside, looking for novelty. Culture is also the common dynamic. The culture industry is almost a redundant term. The work of the hotelier or artist has to do with gendered social reproduction - art as reproductive practice.” She observes that the Manet painting could similarly be read as “gendered reproduction and spectacularization” while the mirror could instead be read as the digital Cloud. Thus representation happens through a series of shifting identifications and shifting mirrors. In provocative last comment she suggests that “art is tourism - it could be equated. They are predicated on travel, institutionalization of displacement and consumption.”

Finding it difficult to comment on it further after the last remarks, Bassam el Baroni congratulated Dimitra on her work: “What can I say after that? [laughter] I think you expressed this - what you found in your thesis - very well in this [work]. Fantastic.”

Learn more about Dimitra Kondylatou’s written MA thesis: 

About Dimitra Kondylatou