Marianne Maric: Bread

Gloves to Nadja

A blue coat is guided guided away, guided and guided away, that is the particular color that is used for that length and not any width not even more than a shadow.

Gertrude Stein, “A blue coat”, Tender Buttons


In 2018 I planned the “Rag to Rich” exhibition, inspired by the gloves of Frances Rich, the somewhat eccentric, cosmopolitan actor-sculptor who gave her name to the exhibition space at The American College of Greece. Those super chic, long gloves from the College collection, which highlighted but also protected the feminine charm as well the hands of the sculptor, impelled me toward an exhibition comprising only female subjects. That’s the minimum tribute to all the feminine subjects who should have been recognized but never were, and who signaled a different history of art which remains to be re-written. As I presented it: An anonymous female subject on a journey of self-realization in times of anger and rebellion. How does it finds it place in a world where male dominance is collapsing? Indeed, is it worth even trying to change or would it be better to start again from the beginning? Only the selection of female artists demonstrates the “Ungeschehenmachen”, the Freudian undoing in this case.

According to the complicated and continually evolving code of Style, so misunderstood, trivial and banal, and so vengeful within its galloping, neo-ethical, normcore functionalism, Nadja Argyropoulou  should by rights be included as the strange priestess of her own ritualistic practice. 

Alone among us. 

In a celebrity column she would be ranked as one of the most chic Greeks in the visual arts world. With a femininity that is both masculine and feminine, she is in my eyes the personification of the fierce feminine identity. Dressed in an armour made by Anne Demeulemeester, A Joanne of Arc, (or perhaps a demonic Gilles De Rais?), she scours the bookcases even at the old bookshops for rare items and Grimoires of a parallel knowledge, forgotten and despised, searching for the thread that connects hymns of glory and folklore to a prehistoric magical practice. 

Margaret Murray, long before Silvia Federici, was the first one to connect witch hunts to the feminist cause through her research into folklore. The latter, as a radical autonomist, on the other hand, may be closer to the anarchism that Argyropoulou studies. The anarchic and the marginalized, the para-natural, the rosy heirloom of tradition, the thrice folded, magical fabric of Nadjas. Scorpio and Virgo, the medicine and the poison, the caring and the punishment, Inanna. Always oblique, in and outside the system, therapy of a mystical worship that flirts with the cult and dares to bring it shamelessly into the culture. 

I could include Nadja herself as a journalist on the list of other participants of Rag to Rich. The 2WO+1NE=2, Accidental Queens, ActiVista, Loukia Alavanou, Eliza Alexandropoulou, Amalia Vekri, Eva Vretzaki, Marina Gioti, Anastasia Douka, Georgia Fambris, Florence Jun, Demi Kaia, Eleni Kamma, Irini Karayannopoulou, Em Kei, Laur M, Marianne Maric, Rilene Markopoulou, Margarita Bofiliou, Dawn Nilo, Dora Economou, Patriarchy, Maria Polyzoidou, Frances Rich, Despina Sevasti, VV. 

A brief reference to “Rag to Rich”. I met VV (the initials of a name) during a bachelor party at a strip club on Syngrou Avenue. When she came to our table she spoke English, with a Russian accent. Unlike the other dancers she wasn’t bothered that no one asked her for a lap dance, and not only did she not leave in anger, she stayed. She told me about her studies in psychology and her interest in modern art, referring to Athenian galleries, which was a pleasant jolt. “So maybe art is everywhere and is accessible?” 

For Rag to Rich we chose some of the photographs of the exotic places, that she travels to around the world, posing with the relative lustfulness  of her beauty woman and the lustfulness of the medium of Instagram as they were exhibited on a mobile phone on a white wall. The hint that they are something between business and pleasure trips makes the photographs, but also her life, mysterious and attractive. The mediated life as an ongoing performance.

These kinds of interdisciplinary, inter-professional, intersectional and at times transgender thematic areas and practices are the contemporary creative convention. The Artistic Subject is kneaded like a work and continually changes. All are creators and potential artists, everybody curates life, the image, their choices. The individual and the collective, the private and the public, the high and the low, the marginalized and the dominant no longer have boundaries. In this multifaceted generation the insistent Nadja Argyropoulou is steadfast and digs, maintains and recasts old spells. The Curator as Servitor, as the Magic of Chaos refers to it, that is, like a being that you call forth with a magical invocation to carry out an action-service. 

A thoughtful woman against Western Mysticism. 

“Non ministrari sed ministrare”, “To serve and not to be served”, to use the motto of The American College of Greece.  

Poka – Yio