Looking for Ilissos

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Intervention on Google Maps

collaboration with Lily Hassioti

created as part of the artist residency of the province of Styria at State of Concept, Athens (GR)

Thank you for the kind support: Land Steiermark

The rivers in Athens have been buried for decades and are only visible in a few places. So is the Ilissos, over whose invisible course the two artists live(d) – north and south. During Lena Violetta Leitner’s artist residency, they embarked on a personal journey to try to encounter this “ghost river.”

Walking towards each other, they scanned the supposed course of the river (3D scans) and met in the middle, at the St. Foteini Church of Ilissos – a place that became their regular meeting point.

Considering the dominance of Google Maps and the way it profoundly shapes the perception of a place, the two artists then created an intervention on Maps,
that questions what may be mapped and how, as well as the uniformity of information. 

By creating a “ghost” Gmail account called Potamos Ilissos (the Ilissos River), they trace the course of the river on the map by creating public pins.

These pins correspond to places where they have been together and contain images, thoughts, emotions and memories in the form of descriptions, reviews and ratings to embed personal experiences into the system. 

Potamos Ilissos acts as a safe space and placeholder where intimate thoughts can be shared publicly, in an interplay between privacy and disclosure. 

The project is an attempt to rethink the notion of “mapping” and create space for personal experiences, scattered information, unfiltered thoughts, speculations, errors and random memories to exist on a global platform.