On the occasion of Anastasia Douka’s sculpture “The Crocodile”

Some thoughts on the artist’s work by Andreas Ragnar Kassapis

In psychoanalysis, it is common for patients to repeatedly relate the same events. A slight change in the structure of a sentence or a word used mistakenly in the course of one of the many iterations can shift the patient’s way of thinking and force them to see themselves in the reality of the situation, now presented under a different light. Something completely obvious to one’s milieu may remain unperceived by the person in analysis. Once aware of this otherwise conspicuous trait, the patient becomes frightened. It is a little like seeing one’s bare back captured in a picture. How scaringly blatant is this image! The experience produces a displacement of what was previously a familiar part of one’s body and personal narrative and in that sense cannot but inspire fear.

Anastasia Douka, Crocodile, 2020, Unhappy Monuments exhibition. Photo: Nikos Alexopoulos

When I look at Anastasia Douka’s sculptures, the same thought always springs to mind. “But it is obvious,” I hear myself musing, though of course I have never before imagined or recalled in this particular way the object Anastasia chose to use. Once Anastasia’s sculptures have rendered their revelatory service to the object, the result is the emergence of a new type of ‘existence’. The object, be it a chain, an inverted ladder or the ‘skin’ of a crocodile or a female figure depicted in a public sculpture, is displaced first mildly, then at an intimidating degree.

Anastasia Douka, Crocodile, 2020, Unhappy Monuments exhibition. Photo: Nikos Alexopoulos

This ‘object’ is so close to my nose I almost feel I am unable to see it! Or, to put it more accurately, it is embossed on my nose. Suspended half inside, half outside my nostril, it radiates as it is left to create prismatic reflections on the symbol it has chosen as its content.

Anastasia’s sculpture is embossed on body and conscience alike. Therein, in my opinion, lies the explanation for the coexistence of the positive and the negative in her practice.

The works are like toys that have been cut open, revealing an interior you had always formed a picture of though not quite in this way. When faced with Anastasia’s sculptures, I have the feeling that I am wearing an elastic mask. I suck on it with my mouth so that the plastic skin of the mask becomes attached to mine. Then this skin bursts, and, for a while, I see it reappearing before me.

Anastasia Douka (SNF ARTWORKS Fellow 2019) is a visual artist working with sculptural media. Her work “Crocodile” is presented in the group exhibition “Unhappy Monuments” at Parko Eleftherias (10–20 October, 2020).

Andreas Ragnar Kassapis (SNF ARTWORKS Fellow 2020) is a visual artist working in painting, text, sound and photography.

ARTWORKS is a nonprofit organization exclusively supported by its founding donor, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Our aim is to create a fertile and nurturing environment for Greek artists through funding and public engagement opportunities. You can always learn more about our Fellows at www.art-works.gr

Essays, texts and interviews about contemporary Greek artists and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Artist Fellowship Program. www.art-works.gr

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