Christos Pantieras auscultes the fragility of personal and intimate relationships, revealed in virtual communities. Particularly interested in the loss of humanism that a computer screen generates, he reorients this way of communicating towards installations and artworks that testify to his virtual discussions, and their often abrupt end. Using texts received in his inbox, he transposes his observations, his relationships and his vulnerability.
The artist asks: “Am I Worth it?”
This is not a question he asks the visitors, but rather an answer he gives to the one who says: “I’m not willing to make the effort.” This last sentence is revealed on the floor covered with letters, like a marker of time, the end of a story. The sentence, the only one among all the alphabet letters gathered in the hundreds on the gallery floor, maintains a dialogical relationship with the title of the exhibition. This is a fragment of a written conversation between two individuals: what remains of an email exchange written several years ago.
Christos Pantieras transfers a fragment of electronic mail to an object in an epistolary installation in which the sentence presented in the artwork takes its meaning from the exhibition title. The gallery floor takes the place of the computer screen, which implies that the gaze changes direction; the reading is no longer carried out in front of a monitor in complete privacy, but with the whole body in a public space. The reader identifies some words, constructs a sentence and recognizes a plain typography, all in capital letters with no punctuation.
The weight of the words, meaningful for the two interlocutors, is materialized on a floor saturated with letters of which the formal substance is cement. Alphabet moulds replace the computer keyboard. The time of producing each letter increases the writing time tenfold. And just like the reaction time when receiving an email about breaking up, the time it takes us to decode the words the letters make, and ultimately a sentence, is very slow.
Therefore one can trample on these typographical characters, be supported by letters of cement. But this sentence, “I’m not willing to make the effort,” remains untouchable, just like the persistent echo that it may have provoked in its receiver. Like the trace of what no longer exists, the installation invites us to step on words, tread on the transmitter’s words, walk all over his words.
-Essay by Marie-Hélène Leblanc
Christos Pantieras was born in Ottawa in 1973, and is a multi-disciplinary artist who works in sculpture, installation, drawing, and mixed media. He received a MFA in Sculpture from York University (Toronto, ON) in 2015. Pantieras has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions at venues such as the Ottawa Art Gallery (Ottawa), the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives (Toronto), Modern Fuel ARC (Kingston) and AXENEO (Gatineau). His work is represented in the collection of the City of Ottawa and in several private collections. He has received grants from the Ontario Arts Council and the City of Ottawa.
Marie-Hélène Leblanc has been the director of Galerie UQO at Université du Québec en Outaouais since 2015. Her freelance curating practice has led her to produce a dozen or so projects presented in various exhibition venues in Quebec, Canada and Europe. She has held the positions of executive director of Espace Virtuel artist-run centre in Chicoutimi (now BANG) and artistic director of DAÏMÕN production centre in Gatineau. She is a PhD candidate in Études et pratiques des arts at Université du Québec à Montréal.
Christos Pantieras gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the City of Ottawa.