De-constructing the Kifissos N.1 | Behind the scenes of Galateia

You say that your work is based in visual memory reconstruction. Could you please tell us, in this particular case, what brought back the memory 2-3 months later?

Alexander Schellow: Here it was triggerd by the acoustic quality of the space. In my studio, I was working with some sound-documents that I recorded during the process of walking at the south-part of the river. Some of the sounds of Galateia’s environment are very specific. First of all, the clap-clap of birds-wings, of course. But also the nearby heavy traffic-situation of the coastal-road, still at a certain distance. Plus in this particular case, there is also some water that flows out of a damaged pipe very nearby and the low-level-movement of the old ladies’ plastic tarps.

Where were you when you “remembered”? You connect the past and the present as one element in your work, but how can you connect to a particular spot when you are in an absolutely different location?

Alexander Schellow: It is difficult to describe. Basically, I search for a connecting aspect of association – like in this case, the particular sound-scape that was almost directly usable as a score for reconstruction. The noise of the pigeons, for instance, gives a rhythm and is at the same time connected to very strong spatial movement-impression (of them as objects, flying, sitting… and of the attention of me as a viewer). This is what you can see as the connecting point (or sequence): a form of memory, yet indifferent, unstabile, hybrid and constantly transforming. It is a starting point. The space to draw is generated to a great deal between the body and a format of paper on the table in front of me. While drawing, I have a very limited perception of the surrounding environment outside of this very constellation. (In the case of the first Galateia-drawings, I was actually in a hotel-room in Paris…the table was black so I had to cover the surface with some white material that I had with me and the chair was a little too low. But the influence of those facts is actually very minimal, I think.) The eyes as a controlling instrument, for instance, are not very important in the process. I am drawing almost (or sometimes even literally) blind, moving the hand on/in the topography of a relational surface that is very much internalized into a certain kinesphere of the drawing (right) hand. The drawing itself is generated out of the relation of this space and the triggered association of a memorized spatial constellation that is not at all (yet) image.

Though you do not speak Greek, you have captured Galateia’s soul. How did you manage to enter her universe, let alone create a “relationship” with her? What was your approach? What was it that made you decide to speak to Galateia?

Alexander Schellow: I don’t think that I was or am even at all able to capture her soul in fact. Still she left a very strong impression in my memory. After having found her by following a massive accumulation of birds, I somehow was just simply touched by the care and love with which she had built her space, completely private in the total public – visible in the way it was constructed, such as in any of her movements actually and in the relation to “her” animals: a dog and the birds, of course. Everything was taken from a daily live urban situation and was brought into this construction of a, of her “world”. I, and that’s why I wrote this first sentence that strictly, don’t think that it is actually possible to enter, capture or understand any of this. I find this important. Still, at the same time, I stayed in her concrete environment for while, after she had allowed me to do so. The situation was very much about spending time together or better said, beside each other, in mutual acceptance of a situation – until after a few days she wanted to start talking. As (besides some more or less indifferent movement-signs) we didn’t find a common language to communicate, I came back with Adamantios Kafetzis as a translator. During this encounter she talked very much in her dynamic and “dramaturgy.” There was very little intervention from my or Adamantios’ side. She literally wanted to tell her story as it has been and/or should have been.

The article series De-constructing the Kifissos was produced with and published by

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