Korallia Stergides on Sharing History through Exploration and Communal Experience

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Photo Courtesy of the Artist ( 2019 ) Exhibition  “I’m An Ephemeral Bubble Of Time Waiting To Be Popped”, Well Projects, Margate UK.

Questions by Anastasia Prokopi Taki

 

You are participating with an improvised presentation of the work “Deep Love” in this year’s Xarkis Festival. What are your expectations from this initiative?

So, firstly, it’s seething historical and ecological fact into contemporary performance, and by doing that, you can bring the relevance of the historical fact into the present day experience of an audience member experiencing this performance. So where they might feel displaced or out of place or foreign to the history of the village, they become embedded in it. Because it gets manipulated in such a way that both the fiction and the fact are on the same hierarchy, their experience of that tour or of those myths are just as much historical and valid to their experience as is the history of the place as well. 

So my expectations are to sort of shift up the weight of that. By doing that, it makes an audience member more present in that moment of experiencing the village and notice the small things or perhaps obscure things or things that aren’t obscure but that can become obscure, so that they can find humor and play in their immediate surroundings and I think by mixing humor and improvisation and these myths, then also barriers between people amongst themselves as an audience start to merge. 

So with the theme being borders, as a collective audience, you are also a performative moving body of people and my expectation is that these crossovers will mix; so you will have children who have not experienced contemporary art, or who have, or even adults who are not so embedded in art and culture, or have a different experience of culture and then you have this new audience who are coming in for this festival, so the idea is that through laughter, their histories can cross where they might not have done before.

 

To what extent is your personal creative process influenced by concepts such as ecology, gathering of wealth and overuse of natural resources of the planet? 

So the character itself came from a frustration of how to engage with the conflicted  history of the island and how it still resonates today. So with my father being a refugee and a soldier from the war I didn’t feel like I could own that history for myself, although that history was also very much my own too because it was passed on to me. So the character and my creative process tries to find ways in which I can access that, but through my own personal experience and so I’m not reiterating the story in a way that is not my own history and then making it my own history. And I think part of that is also extending it out to an audience because everything is back and forth. 

I grew up with the myth of Cyprus being the birthplace of Aphrodite and was really interested in how its representation as “The Island Of Love” reflects this image of an untouched pristine ecology and the contested state in which this very slogan has worked antithetically for its ecology?  My interest in Deep Time my own concern about the planet and climate change, Donna Haraway, is a theorist of this and she talks about ‘dithering’ as a paralysing effect on a human when they are experiencing these situations and for me, I felt that paralyzing effect; that I couldn’t have as much of an effect as a larger institution, as the big guys, like NGOs. So in a way, using the structure of these auctions and stores and sales puts me in that power somewhat and lets me use that structure to reflect back on my frustrations with it, and almost becomes somewhat of a coping mechanism or a way of coping for people so that they feel like they can access that emotion, but not be paralysed by it.

Because I’m interested in ecology, but obviously there is so much information out there where do you start? I draw from a lot of different resources so this makes me think about time and place and what is specific about that time and place and makes me intensively research certain things I wouldn’t normally come across. To have two tangents to my practice, ‘Deep Love’ is just one tangent of my practice and it makes me see things from that perspective and then I have perhaps an even more personal approach, which is even slower and more sensitive to my film practice, so I guess somehow, it’s like creating multiple versions of yourself to be able to experience different things.

Then gathering of wealth, I guess also because I come from a background where my whole family is working in either arcade entertainment, housing or  the hospitality industry, such as hotels I was aware of these structures of representation of a place or providing this idea of a place and the sort of structured setting. I guess seeing Cyprus’ exploitation of tourism, that the environment is actually being exploited for the purposes of creating villas or multiple hotels where the protection for the environment is not matching up to the same level or one is moving faster than the other because of how the money is coming in.

It was a way for me to see that and think how can I deal with it, especially because, being a Cypriot artist between London and Cyprus, there are all these layers of history I want to explore, but rather than just making a documentary, how do I bring my own personal experience of  these histories into it? So my character wears my mum’s reception outfit and other things that just allow for all of this to flood in as well. 

 

The majority of your work is composed and characterised by a plethora of different expressive means, such as the use of the voice, artistic installations, poetry. Is the incentive polymorphy? How flexible does a contemporary artist need to be?

I find within every project and every incentive, there is, I feel, the need to adapt, there isn’t always the same expression for everything. So I feel like a contemporary artist, doesn’t have to be, but for me, they need to be sensitive to what is really genuinely necessary for that situation and whether it is being still for the whole time, or something is staying there for the whole time, like it is an installation or durational performance. You think about, coming from a performance background, the beginning and the end, time is really essential: it is not just about making a sculpture for me. I want people to be aware of how is that being interacted with: what is it if you’ve left it on its own and what is it if you have another human interacting with it as well

I’m really interested in thinking of the plural within one artist because of the way I think. For me it’s actually an organisational method because I’m creating a logic for my own self to exist within, so actually, ‘Deep Love’ was initially one section of many different characters I was trying to explore or tableaus, but it is really difficult to do that because you have to put yourself outside of yourself at the same time. I feel like you can learn a lot about yourself by becoming another version of yourself, or another character, a dissociation, because I refer to ‘Deep Love’ as a she, in the third person, and that enables me to see more objectively and, as if you were making a theatre play, see it more like ‘what does this entity need’? And ‘how does it relate to other things?’ So right now I’m interested in exploring the voice and what I can do with it, and so she was just one anchor point of where I could use my voice in order to give myself the confidence or access to work on another way of using it.  

Korallia Stergides is an MA Student of Fine Art Media at Slade Schoolof Art, University College London, London (2018 – 2020) and graduate of Central Saint Martins Performance Design and Practice (2016). Her work is process led and uses choreographic and spatial processes to interweave experimental film, objects, voice, poetry, performance and installation, creating fiction out of fragments to make playful discoveries through live and mediated spaces.

Korallia’s performance Coming From Compost: Deep Love Village Tours’ will be at Xarkis on Saturday the 17th of August 

Part 1, 10:45 – 11:45

Part 2, 18:30

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