Ekonization, Hello my Friend

La rada, Locarno, 10 Febraury-11 March, 2017 (solo show)

This work is based on a personal experience I had in the refugee camp of Eko, nearby Polykastro which is a few kilometers from the Macedonian border. During this experience I had the feeling that my artistic background couldn’t afford to share this collective situation. More to handle emotionally this reality, I started to collect material there, drying vegetables and documenting all kind of activities that weren’t strictly about surviving, in other words, all activities were done in order to (sort of) live decently in those precarious conditions.

The exhibition is a proposed circuit in which the audience enter in a camp, the fence in the entrance is decorated with the slogan « Hello my friend » which is also written on all human sculptures. Presences are made by wood and hold a few pictures of my documentation. Those wood panels are based on Luna Park painted boards. The wish was to create a direct contact with the visitor whom is asked directly to give his face to those people who seem to be no longer individuals. At the same time the hole reminds them that they are individuals and that the situation they are living in has made them a mass.

Ekonization is a word created from the name of the camp Eko which is also a gas station nearby where two thousand Syrians have stayed for nearly six months. In this time they created facilities but also neighborhood rules, which somehow created the feeling of a community. People there had start to call themselves Eko People and continued to use that name even after they were removed. Eko, became a sort of new identity for most of the people living therefrom Syria, as well as the independent volunteers coming from western countries.

Ekonization tries to describe a collective process of transformation and describe at the same time a personal memory of the realities of the camp. My wish was to immerse the audience in an experience more than just an informative installation. The main point I had to deal with, was the contrast of feelings I had first in the camp – the necessity to manage an emotional balance between the positive moments which happened there with people I met and the dramatic conditions I had to face. The exhibition tries to place the visitor in front a similar challenge, between the appreciation of art and the consciousness of the reality that same art is based on.