LOOKING FOR ILISSOS
Thank you for the support: Land Steiermark
screenshots: intervention on Google Maps and pin card, 2022
all exhibition views: Kunstraum Steiermark 2022, Neue Galerie Graz (AT), 2022/23, photos: Universalmuseum Joanneum / N. Lackner
Where is the river?
The rivers in Athens have been buried for decades and are only visible in a few places. So is the Ilissos, one of the three rivers of Athens, which in ancient Greece flowed outside the city walls and was considered sacred and home to the Muses. In modern times, during the rapid urban expansion of Athens between the 1930s and 1960s, it too was buried due to the built infrastructure and fear of an epidemic threat.
During Lena Violetta Leitner’s artist residency, the two artists lived above the invisible course of the Ilissos River to the north and south. They embarked on a personal journey to try to encounter this “ghost river.” Walking towards each other (3D), they scanned the supposed course of the river and met in the middle, at the St. Foteini Church of Ilisos – 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 questioned 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 traced the course of the river on the map by creating public pins. These pins corresponded to places where they were together and included images, thoughts, emotions, and memories in the form of descriptions, reviews, and ratings to embed personal experiences into the system.
Potamos Ilissos functions 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.
live Mapping and presentation, Gallery State of Concept Athens, Athens (GR), 2022
all photos: Leitner&Hassioti
documentation – live mapping und installation, Gallery State of Concept Athens, Athens (GR), 2022