Maria-Thalia Carras & Olga Hatzidaki
Mentis / Benaki Museum
How do you describe the life of an old factory? How do we step in time with its machines? Chrysanthi Koumianaki researched into the life and times of a small scale brocade factory called Mentis, in Greece, and the game began.
Movement, images, sounds: from the factory. Dance, sketching, music: the body. Our senses in synch out of synch; as new rules are constantly produced.
The artist entered into the microcosm of the factory: dense with sounds, colours and textures. She observed the internal landscape of the small industrial space; she watched, listened and noted and with every notation, every repetition a shift ocurred. The machines’ language became her own, and the language became movement, as dancers became carriers of her linguistic game, from code to code. This game is selective and it is personal; as personal as the story of Mentis himself and his legendary brocade business from its heyday to now.
A brocade factory that opened in Nafplio to dress King Otto, Mentis followed the Bavarian King to Athens when it became capital of Modern day Greece. He later expanded, investing in a silk factory for the production of Greek silk. Mentis: a producer of passementarie which decorated Greek couture houses, traditional costumes, theater production and army wear for over half a century. Mentis: still going till this day, encapsulating in his small workplace the remnants of his long history. His story is the story of Greek industry – its rise and fall.
Chrysanthi Koumianaki’s new work, Chroachym, was comissioned by locus athens. Koumianaki chose to research into Mentis and through her research in the factory, in dialogue with the people who work there and their machines, she developed a new body of work. The works will be presented in situ. Mentis, now both a museum space and a token producer of past glories, provides the starting point for an intricate thread of thought weaving inwards and outwards, producing new connections, multiple languages and alternate meanings.
Chrysanthi Koumianaki (1985) lives and works in Athens and has participated in group shows such as the Thessaloniki Biennial (2015) and ‘Afresh’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (2013). Koumianaki is one of the founding members of the artists initiative 3 137 which functions as a studio but also hosts exhibitions, talks and open-ended artists collaborations.