by Dr. Alexios Petrou, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Nicosia
Art should disrupt conventions and common perceptions. It ought to cultivate a connection with the world, one that seeks, a lost in habit, primordial meaning, it ought to challenge a new way of seeing, that will intervene with the familiar, and bring it into a strange status, removing from it its obvious features, undermining its acknowledged interpretations, and taking apart its recognized apparent coherencies. This is about a procedure of a disfamiliarization (ostranenie or defamiliarization) of the familiar (of the epiphenomenon and the reality) and of the conditions by which it was constructed. It is about an endeavour to disassemble an already defined narration of the real, so as to project onto created discontinuities, the facets of a different world. What is more, it is about that “pregnant moment” (punctum temporis), about one blink, an instant gaze (Augenblick – in English blink of an eye) in which the past and the future meet in the present time, where light is shed upon them and new meanings emerge. Therefore, art, here, functions as the (driving) force for imprinting a meaning that until now has not yet been objectified, as the manifestation of the signified, in one grand prose of the world. And in this grand prose, we all become visible, and simultaneously subjects and objects of the present-time world. A speculum mundi…
Paintings, imprints, traces, etchings of memory, essays on the gaze and endeavours for giving a new meaning to the notion of familiar, in the “clearing of Being”, as Heidegger would say. The presentation of Kyriaki Phili entitled speculum mundi, is an effort to defamiliarize the familiar and is a search for that moment of the manifestation of the Being in space and time. It is a back and forth motion, in an attempt to highlight this punctum temporis of the gaze that becomes speculum mundi.
Yet, what is interesting here, lies in the challenging/provocative stand that Phili takes, to undertake the theory in practice with very familiar works of art, those of Johannes Vermeer and Luchino Visconti. In the case of the girl, the painter returns to Holland of the 17th century, in Delft, and essays anew imprint of the moment, putting at stake however, the gaze… An instant, prior or after, of the one initially imprinted by Vermeer, a moment to think and reflect upon the moment when the painter was gazed at.Moreover, a moment without the subject, there whereexists only the earring or the scenery of the world…
In reference to Visconti’s cinematic masterpiece, Phili’s work focuses on the desire for the presence of the innermost. People-extras in the filmmaker’s reality, people-heroes in Phili’s reality, that come forth and call for our attention. Images-documents and moments-gazes of people, that the artist repositions selectively, into a new prose of the world.
Lastly, in many of her works, Phili chooses to imprint her thoughts on/with emblematic materials: sand, pencil. Into these materials, reside here those who do not want to escape as manifestations from this speculum mundi.