NiMAC, Nicosia, Cyprus
Installation at the Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre as part of the exhibition Hypersurfacing curated by Marina Christodoulidou.
In Star gaze Stelios Kallinikou climbs up Mount Olympus—the highest peak in Cyprus—and creates astrophotography depicting the starry sky and the condensation of his breath. These images assimilate the mechanical operation of the camera and, at the same time, the respiratory function of the body. Radar station focuses both on the RAF (Royal Air Force) Troodos station, one of the main British overseas military installations—in the Troodos mountains since 1878, and on the Starbrook wide-field telescope of the BNSC (British National Space Centre), situated on the same spot since 2016. In these images a colonial gaze is juxtaposed with the critical eye of the artist. Nearby, a young Μoufflon, also in the Troodos area, gazes at the camera. Finally, a fragment of a painting, depicting four naked legs at the lower part of a flat grey surface, forms the work rcsaerh. The narration lays ahead.
Point Centre for Contemporary Art
Nicosia, Cyprus, 2019
Kallinikou for this exhibition present works from his long term project entitled “The Garden of Peace and Desire”. This time he turns his gaze on the Nicosia Municipal Gardens, located behind the parliament house and next to the Green Line. Its set up started during the English rule and it was originally named ‘Victoria’s Garden’, in honour of the namesake queen. In 1968, almost ten years after Cyprus independence, the prominent Cypriot architect Neoptolemos Michaelides undertook the area’s remodeling. He replaced ‘Victoria’s Garden’ with a "Cypriot garden" of endemic plants that develops "freely", as he himself put it. The garden was renamed as ‘The Garden of Peace’.Kallinikou enters this politically charged space and concentrates on the locations and visible traces of sexual activity, moving within a new architecture indicated by the needs of “cruising”. In Where are you going young man, handsome like a legend (2016-17) the artist scouted out, in the rough forests of Cyprus, the hideouts created from the organization EOKA during the campaign for Cypriot self-determination against the British rule (1955-59). In The Garden of Peace and Desire he further develops his thought on how nature, in the guise of the municipal garden, acts as a hide out -this time for desire, becoming by extension an arena for the fight for the self-determination of the body itself.
Anafi Island, Greece, 2019
Phenomenon 3, A residency and an exhibition held in the Aegean island of Anafi, Greece. It is organized by the Association Phenomenon and the Collection Kerenidis Pepe.
For the Phenomenon 3 exhibition Kallinikou brings together works from Flamingo theatre (2016) , Over the Horizon (2018), Star gaze (2019), Mouflon (2019)
Kallinikou’s practice is characterised by an interest in the function of the gaze as an embodied experience which determines the ways in which we comprehend and interact with our surroundings. In ‘Star Gaze’ (2019), he once again climbs to Olympus, the peak of the Troodos mountain range. Troodos was created from volcanic activity 90 million years ago: its geographical coordinates place us at the highest point in Cyprus whilst geologically we are located at the bottom of the ancient ocean of Tethys. It is from this height and from this history laying under his feet that Kallinikou turns his gaze upwards towards the starry sky, a dome which allows us to look upon a past whose light is travelling to us. These thoughts accompanied Kallinikou to the snowed Olympus. Whilst checking a shot on the camera’s screen, he noticed a weird aura-like mark on the image that bewildered and fascinated him. Due to the biting cold, the condensation of his breath was recorded on the photograph. Recognising in this ‘accident’ a poetic dimension, he continued to photograph whilst breathing next to the lens, blurring the boundaries between bodily and mechanic operations. The resulting photographs bridge the sky’s macrocosm with the earth’s microcosm and imbue the work with speculative qualities regarding the reconfiguration of relations between space, time and matter.
In Over The Horizon 2018 Kallinikou climbs to the top of the castles of Pentadaktylos, which were built by the Byzantines in the 11th century BC, used by the Franks and destroyed by the Venetians. The ascend of the photographer to the top of the mountain through physical effort carries special importance. The position of power is conquered by and with the body and the camera remains attached to the photographer, acting as an extension of the hand. Kallinikou therefore climbs to the top of the castles and activates his gaze upon the plains, the mountain tops and the seas, as a guard in the Middle ages would do. The difference is that he is not armed with a spear and a bow but with a camera…
Flamingo Theatre is located within the British Western Sovereign Base Area, one of two territories (the other being Dhekelia) controversially retained by the British under the 1960 treaty of independence. Kallinikou explores the relationship between the military base used for monitoring the developments in the Middle east with the natural habitat of the Akrotiri salt lake in Limassol, one of easters Mediterranean most important wetlands hosting thousands migratory birds that temporarily live at the salt lake and continue their journey.
According to mythology, the name of the Anafi (Ἀνάφη) island is derived from ‘ἀνέφηνεν’, meaning ‘he made appear’, because the Greek god Apollo revealed it to the Argonauts as a shelter from a bad storm, using his bow to shed light upon it. Inspired by this narration, Kallinikou went online to research the ancient text by Orpheus knows as Argonautica, and took a screenshot of the word ἀνέφηνεν. He then blew up this screenshot in a seven-meter print, with the word became pixelated and placed it on a wall facing the sea. His gesture, underlined by the historical method of returning to a primary source as a starting point, underlines issues around the relation between language and phenomenon, abstraction and photography.
rcsaerh , 2019
Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany
For the series “rcsaerh” he further develops his interest in the pictorial representation of landscape. He photographed paintings from the Alte National Gallery of Berlin that negotiate, in one way or another, the relationship of man with the natural world. Later on, he researched these paintings online and screenshot the search-engine generated matrices of results at the point in time before the actual images appear. The resulting images show blocks of varied monochromatic rectangular shapes. He is referencing and utilizing ‘lazy loading’, a technique used in computer programming that defers the loading of non-critical resources at page load time. Instead, these non-critical resources are loaded at the moment when they are required. Where images are concerned, "non-critical" is often synonymous with “off-screen”.
Kallinikou brings these two images together into a digital collage, underlining issues around the politics of representation and challenging the ways in which such mechanisms have been manifest in museum displays and digital monitors showing information. Kallinikou negotiates the surface and meta surface to create neo-painterly images that reside in the intersection between tradition, painting, photography and the meta data era. In this way, he is interrupting and at the same time making visible the process of a painting becoming an image, and by extension data and information. The resulting images merge layers of the real and the virtual and embody different spatial and temporal dimensions in an effort to deepen the notion of the still image by suggesting a fragmented narrative with the potential for restaging by the viewer.
Video, 4 monitors, sound, loop
Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany, 2019
The video work “Trailer” is a collage of research material from and about the Akrotiri Area. The British Sovereign Base Area of Akrotiri is a space suspended between different and complex narratives. In its landscape, British military facilities intersect a wetland with incredible biodiversity, vitally important for the wider eastern Mediterranean region. On the one hand, thousands of migratory birds use the area as a temporary home; on the other hand, the British military base serves to monitor the flow of political developments in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. The work is inspired by videos on YouTube, showing adolescents participating in a summer school at the military base, creating and uploading the videos for fun. Kallinikou put forward an abstract, poetic film carried by a specially composed sound work by Panagiotis Mina, which is an attempt to encapsulate the complicated nuances and contradictions of the area.
Tulipa cypria, 2018
Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany
...These nuances often become a vehicle through which the process of photography acts upon territory-ideology and history. While he was working on a series of photographs of a rare endemic wildflower – the Cyprus tulip - in the village of Mammari, UN soldiers appeared and asked him to leave, as he was in a part of the village that falls within the ‘dead zone’, a de-militarized zone lying between the south and north (Cyprus has been divided since 1974). He showed them the photographs in order to prove that he wasn’t doing anything illegal, and in the hope that they would let him continue, but it proved impossible. They responded that they were aware that he was photographing the flowers, but nonetheless he was not allowed to be there.
Studies in Geology
APhF19, Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece, 2019
Studies in Geology (Lava Walls) (2017-18), plays upon the theme of natural history by utilising the unique feeling that standing into the world means embracing the simultaneity of extremes. The birth and emergence of the island of Cyprus and the Troodos mountain range (where the photographs were taken) is the result of unique and complex geological processes that lasted millions of years. Troodos, the largest mountain range in Cyprus, was created by volcanic activity at the depths of the ocean 90 million years ago. As we rise up to Troodos, the rock formations we come across are the same as those that we would have come across when going down to the depths of the oceans. Therefore, the geographical coordinates of the photographs reveal that we are located at Troodos, the highest peak of the island, whilst geologically we are located at the bottom of the ancient ocean of Tethys. Kallinikou, enthralled from the scientific narrative, traverses the mountain range following the paths where traces of lava can be found. The images that he creates seek to reveal the secrets of the rocks as they are submerged in the endless game of the multitude of matter and time.
Studies in Geology
Foam Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2018
...Kallinikou’s ongoing series Studies in Geology presents a group of photographs taken in an ancient mine hidden in the pine forests of Troodos Mountains, the largest mountain range in Cyprus. Based on archaeological excavations, mining activity in Cyprus can be dated back to the 3rd century BC. The presence of a large number of valuable minerals and useful, raw materials has made mining in the area attractive throughout the ages. This influenced the course of history and the interference of foreign powers on the island. Kallinikou enters the crater of the mine and the resulting lake to observe the earth as an open body. He meticulously examines the ground and the surface of the lake for traces of human gesture as it has been inscribed throughout time.
For more read exhibition essay by Kim Knoppers
Over The Horizon, 2018
Nimac, Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre
In the framework of: Drone Vision: Surveillance, Warfare, Protest. A collaboration between Nimac in Nicosia, Hasselblad Centre in Gothenburg and the Zahoor Ul Akhlaq Gallery of the National College of Arts in Lahore, 2018.
Stelios Kallinikou’s project revolves around one of the fundamental axis of our times: surveillance. The project develops the photographer’s interest in exploring issues that touch upon the country’s history whilst thinking about the nature of the photographic medium. The colonial past of the island is once again the starting point. Kallinikou climbs to the top of the castles of Pentadaktylos, which were built by the Byzantines in the 11thcentury BC, used by the Franks and destroyed by the Venetians. The ascend of the photographer to the top of the mountain through physical effort carries special importance. The position of power is conquered by and with the body and the camera remains attached to the photographer, acting as an extension of the hand. Kallinikou therefore climbs to the top of the castles and activates his gaze upon the plains, the mountain tops and the seas, as a guard in the Middle ages would do. The difference is that he is not armed with a spear and a bow but with a camera. This is contrasted to one of the crucial elements that characterize drone technology, which holds vast implications –namely, that they assume their position without having the limitations of the human body. At the same time, he focuses on the surveillance equipment HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Project) found at the British sovereign bases in the areas of Akrotiri and Troodos. Like a colonial heritage prevalent in the Cypriot landscape, this equipment creates aerial webs for gathering information. These complicated mechanisms, whilst being geographically located in Cyprus, expand their operations to unknown lengths and breadths, determining new spectral borders.
For more read exhibition essay by Dr. Yiannis Toumazis
SKPP Duo show with Polys Peslikas
PARTY Contemporary | Artist-run gallery, Nicosia, Cyprus, 2018
The title of the show is an acronym for Stelios Kallinikou Polys Peslikas, suggesting the coming together of two artists and the mediums they respectively use, photography and painting. Stelios and Polys are invited to respond to Party Contemporary artist run gallery space and converse in a way which reflects the intertwined history of painting and photography. Stelios, who tirelessly observes and documents the landscape of Cyprus, presents a group of photographs that verge on the painterly. Polys, who paints with an emphasis on the layering of colours and textures, utilises specific features of the space and found photography.
Where are you going young man, handsome like a legend.
Point Centre for Contemporary Art
Nicosia, Cyprus, 2017
In this new series of images Kallinikou continues his research on the politics of the landscape. This time he creates photographs of enigmatic landscapes of Cyprus’ nature. At most of these landscapes one can notice caves that introduce the human element in these images. A primitive form of architecture or gates to another dimension? What we actually witness is Kallinikou’s peripatetic journey and effort to find and photograph the hideouts constructed and used by the EOKA guerrilla group during the national liberation struggle of 1955 – 1959 against British rule. The forest as a holy place becomes the space where Kallinikou, moving through primal paths, wonders about the true nature of things.
read exhibition review by Harris Pellapaisiotis