Xirómero / Dryland is an interdisciplinary collective work conceived by Thanasis Deligiannis and Yannis Michalopoulos, created along with the artists Elia Kalogianni, Yorgos Kyvernitis, Kostas Chaikalis and Fotis Sagonas for the Greek Pavilion at the 60th Venice Biennale. The project is curated by Panos Giannikopoulos.


The work consists of a piece of agricultural irrigation equipment which synchronizes the sound, video and lighting environments that make up the installation in real time. It investigates the experience of a village festival by following its course from the village square all the way to its outskirts, and to the surrounding land. More specifically, it draws upon the experience of the panighíria -local festivals- of mainland Greece, Thessaly and the area of Xirómero, in Western Greece, which lends the work its title.


The artists behind the work refer to water as a prism —a way of seeing and thinking with— focusing on its scarcity or abundance, on needing it or wasting it, as well as on its social connotations. The exhaustion of resources is linked here to physical and financial exhaustion. The work navigates the political potential of sound and music and the impact of technology on rural landscapes and cultural diversity.


In between ritual and entertainment, the village festival conveys information and is charged with meaning. It is connected to agricultural work; it is born of —but also begets— the community’s internal time cycle which follows the pace of irrigation and other agricultural tasks. It helps the community form an image of itself. But at the same time contradictory notions coalesce: viewers become participants, on-stage becomes off-stage, the performative gives way to the everyday.


This incessant interaction between ‘representation’ and reality is reproduced within the work itself.

Xirómero / Dryland also utilizes the particular architectural features of the Pavilion of Greece to evoke by association images of agricultural warehouses or the religious architecture that is so often the backdrop of the panighíri. The watering equipment at the center of the Pavilion delineates a circular perimeter that is the actual space of the installation. The work serves to transfer indoors the outdoor spot where the community comes together —the village square, the place of public assembly. As the watering system comes on, it sets a specific pace and marks the time like a clock or a cassette tape playing, suggesting specific routes for the viewers to follow, encouraging shifts in viewpoint along the way. Xirómero / Dryland steers clear of an aesthetic approach, emphasizing instead the emotional immediacy of the encounter with objects, sounds and images.


Observing gender relations in the context of the panighíri allows us to examine the various possibilities of presenting the self, the different versions of femininity and the manner in which the female body is either revealed or concealed, but also the ambivalent gesture of the subject who chooses to withdraw, opting for absence and its own exclusion from the festivities.


Xirómero / Dryland attempts to create associations between a geographically contextualized experience and the global condition; to facilitate shifts of perspective between dominant and marginalized cultural subjects which seem to open up a liminal space for the articulation of new meanings.

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