Aemilia Papaphilippou: “Art is a technology of thought and a strategy for evolution”

Interview by Sophia Iliana Georgiadi

Aemilia Papaphilippou is a distinguished Greek artist. I did not know her personally but I felt very proud approaching her work while knowing that she was a graduate of my school. I asked that we meet each other and talk about Art and her work.

-What is the first creative moment you remember?

-“I kind of remember being in my crib. Looking at the sunrays, streaming into the room through the smallest, minutest holes in the shades. Thin, solid, shafts of light beamed upon me. Yet, when I reached to touch them (I remember lifting my hands) that simply could not be. And the dust…no dust at all! It whirled, and whirled, never touching the ground…

Weightlessness, Immense Beauty, Happiness.
Absolutely no control over anything …”

This is the first creative moment I remember of intense observation and a parallel realization of my existence. I find it precious, since it concentrates on all the issues that interest me despite the fact that, at the time, I’m still, a toddler! As a text it is part of one of my performances.

“FIXed in Flux” installation and tearing down the wall at the
inaugural exhibition of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, in 2000.

-Special moments from your school years in Pierce.

-I remember writing and looking outside the classroom, at the hill…blooming almond trees! We were close to graduating and we were also in the bloom of adolescence.
I even seem to remember being allowed to exit the classroom and write the essay required under an almond tree!

This interconnection, between Pierce’s architecture and Nature around it, was really a “school” in and of itself…
I’m sad to learn that access to the hill has been prevented with ironbars.

Time at the Library:
I was permitted by the Headmaster, if I felt like going to the library, to read, to be allowed to do so, even during classes!
Tolerance combined with trust, has educated me into being a responsible reader and researcher.


Moments, when the ball simply seemed to come in slow motion! The paradox of perception in the alert!

-What kind of equipage did New York supply you with?

-Many and varied!

I will never forget my professor, the videoartist pioneer Peter Campus, that in addition to giving me the New York University’s teaching scholarship, as his teaching assistant, he honored us by bringing one of his own pieces in class, to be discussed. Because, as he stated publicly, he wanted our opinion!

As you understand, despite the honor he bestowed upon us, I was taught by example not to consider myself the center of the world.

-What is Art for you?

I consider all Art a technology of thought and a strategy for evolution, where artworks are both, the tools but also the accomplishments.

In contemporary terms, Art and Culture is an open source code (software), bequeathed from generation to generation, and while getting constantly redesigned it shapes mindsets, possibly even the synapses of the brain, transforming the body itself (hardware).

“FIXed in Flux” (presentation), National Museum of Contemporary Art, 2000

-What is the role of “black light” in your installations?

-“Black light” transforms matter so that, through fluorescence, a simple thread looks like being “intangible”, a ray of light…
Since materiality concerns me, and in particular the transformation of mater through technology, black light and yarn installations were among the first pieces in the process of my work, when there was still little interest in the soft, “feminine” materiality of a thread.

-Tell us about interactive installations and the involvement of the viewer and nature in them.

All works of Art, from Altamira to the present, are systems that humans organize; initially involving themselves but also expecting the involvement of Others.

Or, possibly, other forces: in my mind I have devotional/magical images/invocations that may have been buried and found in graves.
Simply, in interactive installations the mechanism becomes more apparent and the viewer becomes declared as an active participant and part of the project.

“Pulsating Fields”, Athens Ancient Agora, 2014

-Rhodes 2019: A very impressive project. How did you conceive and implement the concept?

-Conceptually, that is to say the tendency for public intervention, begins in 2000 with my work “FIXed in Flux” at the inaugural exhibition of the National Museum of Contemporary Art(EMST), which was announced to be at the ruins of the FIX brewery building.

There I ignored the museum conventions offered to us.

Meaning, abandoning the somewhat organized “white” space in the midst of the ruinous FIX building, plastered with advertisements, I tore down a wall and by bridging “chaos” and “order”, I commented, not without difficulty, on the institutional status and hypostasis of the “Museum”.

Intervening further into public space, I have to refer to the piece I did at the Ancient Agora, underneath the Acropolis of Athens, in 2014, with the support of D. Daskalopoulos’ cultural organization NEON.

This was its first commission.

In Rhodes, after the invitation and sponsorship of the Rodos Palace Hotel in celebration of its 45th anniversary, and under the auspices of the French Institute, the South Aegean Region and the National Tourist Organization, I realized “Chess Continuum: The Everlasting Now”. The project has been further realized with the kind support of the French Consulate in Rhodes and the Ephorate of Antiquities of the Dodecanese at the Fortification Walls of Rhodes, the Medieval City of the Knights, which has been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

I felt, it was pivotal, at the Walls (that have seen so many raids and disasters), to ponder upon the pressing issue of planetary destruction and to wonder, at the rate we are going, if the “Everlasting Now” will continue to include humans…

Presentantion of “Chess Continiuum: The Everlasting now”, Rhodes, 2019
Documentation of “Chess Continuum: The Everlasting now”, Rhodes, 2019

-What are you busy with nowadays?

-I’m “busy” with the work, to the extent that the work is “busy” with me…
It guides me, chases me, catches me, I escape, I catch it, I guide it, it escapes …!

It is

“Being the Game and the Game’s Game”

as I have written in the past trying to figure out this feeling.

-What advice would you give to a young artist?

To work and not consider oneself an “artist”.

“Chess Continuum:The Everlasting Now”, Medieval Fortification Walls, Rhodes, 2019

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“Chaosmos: Ludwigsburg Fugue”, Germany, 2017
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Iliana Geo
Iliana Geo
Η Ηλιάνα είναι Visual Artist και Conceptual Designer με έδρα την Αθήνα, Ελλάδα. Είναι κάτοχος πτυχίου Visual Art από το Deree - Αμερικανικό Κολλέγιο Ελλάδος. Έχει συμμετάσχει και επιμεληθεί εικαστικές εκθέσεις. Επίσης, είναι επικεφαλής του Art Committee στον Σύλλογο Αποφοίτων ACG.


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