By Méri Charitonidi
ELENI TRANOULI is a contemporary curator and concept designer whose activity lingers between the cities of Athens and Paris. Her education on Architecture and Film & Audiovisual Studies, along with her professional background in cultural institutions, have made her focus on projects that incorporate art in daily life and vice versa.
Deeply interested in experiential hospitality and mediation, her background formulates the ideal canvas upon which her curatorial experiments may settle. Her launching enterprise “Kantharos Gatherings” took place in Dexamenes Seaside Hotel by K-studio, member of Design Hotels. So far, her works’ particularity is marked by mixed media, topological diversity, in-flux methodologies, indulgence, elegance and collectivity. Through her collaboration with the artists Panos Profitis, Dèspina Charitonidi and Paky Vlassopoulou her vision became a unique sophisticated experience for those present.
“ART IS TO EXPERIENCE, CONCEPTS ARE TO SHARE”
Genuine analysis, thorough research and bold perspective, frame the key factors that distinguish Tranouli’s cultural strategics on event planning. Treating her ideas as holistic, the curator intends to incorporate the narratives of unfathomable sensations into actual transformative acts and artistic products. Performance, installation and sculpture combine in order to unify as solid multidisciplinary elements of a totality that aims to give the audience an uncommon and exclusive initiation to a ritualistic practice of potent artistic experimentation and flourishing philosophical maturity.
FU: Art in daily life: a tremendous necessity.
ET: The term “tremendous necessity” immediately brings to mind the basics of survival. As living conditions become more and more precarious, we forget to claim our right to not merely life, but to a “good”, fulfilling one, on a daily basis. What is also called the “ευ ζην”. And art, to me, is our last chance to refine and elevate our everyday experience. Because it has the potential to change our perception, expand our imagination, and stir our emotions towards things, ourselves and others. Therefore, it is a daily essential.
FU: Kantharos Gatherings: the experience of a visual concept.
ET: Kantharos Gatherings is a holistic approach on hotel programming through the implementation of transdisciplinary, contemporary art practices. The program is a series of artist-designed wine tasting experiences that intertwine with Dexamenes Seaside Hotel’s unique story as a post-war winery turned into a barefoot luxury resort. It aims at raising awareness on the site’s transitory identity through shared experience, while connecting the local community with global creative minds.
But Kantharos Gatherings is also the correlation of a series of events, such as meeting the visionary Nikos Karaflos back in 2016, or sipping from a ceramic feeding bottle by Paky Vlassopoulou at the Museum of Cycladic Art in 2018, tasting a blue mushroom soup prepared by Panos Profitis and Dèspina Charitonidi during their performance last spring, etc. All these played a key role on how the Kantharos Gatherings concept came about.
FU: Where do you draw your inspiration from & whose contemporary work do you consider indispensable for the Athenia experiential and ritualistic cultural reality?
ET: I was always drawn to works that departed from the concrete and the ordinary, then rearranged it, and transformed it into something abstract, mystical, enigmatic, funny, new. I’m thinking of artists like Peter Fischli & David Weiss, João Maria Gusmão & Pedro Paiva, Petros Efstathiadis, Lenio Kaklea. Or, visual artists that work within a stimulating conceptual and formalistic frame like Haris Epaminonda, Chrysanthi Koumianaki, Navine G.Khan-Dossos, and others. To me, it’s not a question of locality. Today, nomadism in the art world is becoming more and more institutionalised. In Athens, there are plenty who participate in an international discourse. Any list of names would be incomplete.
FU: Beyond Kantharos or a hint on what is to be expected of your near future indie attempts.
ET: Kantharos Gatherings has already drawn some international attention, leading to some exciting – yet unannounced - perspectives. More and more individual hospitality settings are seeking for community building and the creation of networks between them and with other structures. A traveling art experience, tailored each time, can surely become the glue that holds them all together. So, today, I’m heading towards this direction, which is co-production.
FU: Spaces seem as the key factor of your concept creation. If you had to choose: where, what and how?
ET: I was always inspired by spaces with a strong narrative that become places, just like Dexamenes. Or, like the Alila Yangshuo, the Perianth, or others, powered by talented teams like the Experimental Group or Perseus properties, for example. If I had to choose, I would combine the performative extravaganza of a Gentle Monster flagship store, with the meditative intimacy of James Turrell’s Skyspace installation at Amanzoe. I hope you enjoy it.