“Natasha Papadopoulou: Under Acupressure” at B & M Theocharakis Foundation
This is our last dance This is ourselves under pressure
(Queen and David Bowie, ‘Under Pressure,’ 1981)
The song’s refrain – under pressure – is playing on repeat, without words. Under pressure we’re breaking, but in Under Acupressure Natasha Papadopoulou upends the terms of pressure and explores ways of physical resistance. She sets up a unique pressure point massage studio – a weird space in which self-care takes on new meaning, in a critique of commodified wellness.
Energy channels, subcutaneous links, meridians from the upper back to the extremities, skin-deep paths and deeper connections with organs, tissues and words. Compressions take place on yoga mats, using bottles converted into massage rollers, while enjoying a view to the Hellenic Parliament building; linguistic tropes follow musical rhythms.
A ‘how-to’ or ‘promo’ video is on view in the reception area, and self-massage systems are available for visitors to use on the terrace. Repurposed jackets invite visitors to lie down and look at the sky; incendiary devices in the guise of beer bottles invite the visitors to roll their feet over them; leather clothing extensions are strewn on the floor. Facilitated by this array of devices, point pressure releases muscle tension and promotes blood flow, inducing relaxation or stimulation.
The experience of this performative event is inextricably intertwined with self-care. In Under Acupressure, the inappropriate, what becomes unfamiliar by repression, establishes a condition of comfort. Skin has a special role in the symbolic system constructed by Papadopoulou. Skin texture fuses with linguistic texture; the body becomes a text and vice versa. Invoking Hélène Cixous’ concept of writing the body, the artist develops novel linguistic-physical strategies by focusing on skin. Papadopoulou proposes a fluid condition – an open, non-linear semantic system that facilitates a respite from the conditions of information consumption. She constructs a framework for a delightful contact with reality through the body while revisiting the concept of care. Here, contrasting notions, such as activity-passivity, reason-passion, body-intellect, head-heart, are called into question. Discipline is disrupted, and the body itself is reconfigured, all while flying in the face of linguistic standards.
During the opening, the visitors are invited to interact with the work, while in the presence of the artist and after following her directions.