Loukia Alavanou

Loukia Alavanou lives and works in Athens. She creates animations and multi-channel installations that explore the site of cinema in relation to desire. Recent solo exhibitions include Next Door to Alice, Rodeo Gallery, Istanbul (2010), Chop Chop, Upstairs, Berlin (2009) and Loukia Alavanou at the Galeries Haas and Fischer, Zurich (2007). Group show include, ‘identity, body it – NCA, Tokyo (2010), Memories and Encounters, Viafarini, Milan (2010) and 4 Young Female Artists at Galeries Haas and Fischer, Zurich (2007). She is a graduate of photography from the Royal College of Art (2005).

‘Through my animations and multi-channel installations I explore the language of cinema in relation to desire. My practice engages with the linguistic associations that can be made between the process of ‘masking’ in animation and the ‘feminine masquerade’. According to Mary Ann Doane’s analysis of the subject, the ‘masquerade’ denies the production of femininity as closeness, since it institutes a critical distance from the female spectator. I explore this idea through ‘masking’ and reassembling fragmented images and sounds from film, such as extravagant feminine body parts*. The way the videos are installed deals with ‘fragmentation’ and ‘filmic time’: the installations are often multi-channel and the distance between the screens and the viewer is an important factor taken into account.

The feminine voice in film, or even its ‘absence’ or symbolic substitution becomes a point of departure for my practice. In my recent work Episodio 9791, I interweaved extracts from a monologue by an American soap-opera actress dubbed in Italian, with fragments from Pasolini’s Medea (in which the director has dubbed the most famous operatic voice, that of Maria Callas). I see this act of ‘dubbing the Diva’ as Passolini’s attempt to ‘speak’’ about feminine jouissance that, according to Lacan, is inaccessible to language. Episodio 9791 attempts to re-contextualize this ‘missing feminine voice’ of cinema through a process of intertextuality that merges ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture. The emphasis is placed on the dubbed voice, while the close-up images of the soap actress are being punctuated by three dimensional objects: plants and moving fans are placed in front of the projector, casting a smudge on the image. The imaginary support that the voice was based on is being deprived through this intrusion. The ‘real plants’’ bring out a dimension of something beyond symbolization.

Furthermore, my practice is an exploration of the influence of film in the formation and structuring of memory. It draws on the idea of ‘sequence-images’, a term Victor Burgin uses to describe our individual memories of film fragments, which are often merged images from other-wise unrelated films, or feelings ‘marked’ by images remembered from film. By undoing and redoing familiar sequences of woman and domesticity, I attempt to examine the ways in which early Hollywood cinema might have shaped our understanding of gender identity, and how role models constructed by it permeate memory from an early age.’

*The fragments are usually taken from classic Hollywood movies and early Disney cartoons, Hitchcock and other 50’s auteurs. I also use static images from personal and social sources.

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