Liv­ing in a doll­house

Thes­sa­loniki mu­seum show­ing new in­stal­la­tion by Ka­te­rina Zacharopoulou

Kathimerini English - - Life - BY MARIA KATSOUNAKI

Be­sides fam­ily and friends, no one would have known of Petronella Oort­man had the lonely, idle, end­less hours of her 17th-cen­tury Dutch bour­geois ex­is­tence not led her to con­struct a work of art. A pi­o­neer­ing in­stal­la­tion, to be more pre­cise.

The wealthy spouse of a rich silk mer­chant, Oort­man cre­ated a minia­ture replica of her res­i­dence, which she sub­se­quently placed in a dis­play cabi­net.

While the pro­ject proved a par­tic­u­larly ex­pen­sive af­fair – as it turned out, the replica’s cost ex­ceeded that of the house it­self – it did earn its cre­ator a prom­i­nent spot in Am­s­ter­dam’s Ri­jksmu­seum.

That is where artist Ka­te­rina Zacharopoulou came across the doll­house for the first time in 2006. She im­me­di­ately felt that she wanted to re­vive the cen­turies-old story in her own way.

Zacharopoulou’s in­stal­la­tion at Thes­sa­loniki’s Bey Hamam ex­hi­bi­tion hall com­prises 10 video pro­jec­tions. The first, fea­tur­ing a Vene­tian watch­maker work­ing on a vintage piece with­out much suc­cess, is screened in­side a cup­board.

“It’s a sym­bolic im­age which pre­pares vis­i­tors for the in­stal­la­tion’s time­less en­vi­ron­ment,” Zacharopoulou told Kathimerini. “The nar­ra­tion has no be­gin­ning, mid­dle or end, while the ac­tion could be tak­ing place dur­ing the course of a day. A day in the life of a woman. These kind of doll­houses have noth­ing to do with chil­dren’s toys. They are about about de­spair and sad­ness.”

The artist wanted to re­vive Oort­man’s doll­house us­ing her own mem­o­ra­bilia and ob­jects col­lected dur­ing her trav­els. In the videos the scale of the ob­jects is in­versed.

“In­stead of them be­ing smallscale, they are gi­gan­tic. I took the minia­ture idea and turned it into a life-size house,” said the artist.

At the for­mer hamam in Thes­sa­loniki, ev­ery room hosts a dif­fer­ent video in­stal­la­tion: an en­trance hall, a liv­ing room, a read­ing room and a bed­room, among oth­ers.

In­side the rooms, a woman’s lone­li­ness comes across in a se- ries of men­tal and emo­tional ac­tiv­i­ties such as read­ing, pac­ing, wait­ing, writ­ing and so on.

“Per­haps we ought to take a closer look at the small, sim­ple things that we un­der­es­ti­mate in our daily life,” said Zacharopoulou.

Zacharopoulou’s ex­hi­bi­tion at the Bey Hamam is a pro­duc­tion of the Thes­sa­loniki Cen­ter of Con­tem­po­rary Art and is cu­rated by Syrago Tsiara.

Eros and Psy­che adorn the wall of the en­trance hall in­stal­la­tion (l), while a woman read­ing (r) ap­pears calm, yet emo­tion­ally tense.

A gen­eral view of the Bey Hamam in Thes­sa­loniki, where the ex­hi­bi­tion is be­ing hosted un­til June 26.

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