The theoretical starting point of this art work can be traced to the worlds of faith, thanksgiving, and offering. Through allusions to the images of votive offerings and the intensely manual nature of the art-making process, a dialogue is established with the nonmaterial offerings and the forms of spiritual exercise that, despite their intangible nature, require discipline, concentration, and persistence.
The practice of votive offerings is a testament to man’s connection with the divine, a manifestation of worship and miracles; it also reveals the unfolding social drama that urges the faithful to make the offering. This is part of a small ritual, which allows a personal touch and the element of improvisation.
These practices give access to the sacred, which is associated with everything that turns psychosomatic experiences into a process of constantly evolving rebirth and creativity.
“Eucharist” (thanksgiving) is derived from the Greek word ευχαριστώ, which means “to acknowledge and return a favour.”
The act of thanksgiving establishes a semantic field involving memory, gratitude, and thought. According to Heidegger, all acts of thanksgiving belong to the realm of thought, since gratitude is primarily addressed to the ultimate gift, which is the essence of our Being; it is therefore addressed to thinking and reflection.
In this art work, ash was intentionally chosen for its ephemeral nature and its ability to be reborn through burning. Incineration symbolizes death, and ash stands for the ephemeral, the transient nature of human life, the instinct of death and, above all, the fear of total finality: of returning unto dust.
Once the idea of ash becomes a rhetorical scheme for anything that loses its shape through incineration – and hence for the loss of its foundation, or of the corporeal form of those whose memory is preserved by the ash – then ash ceases to be a concrete concept. It becomes a metaphor for all things that disappear without a trace. Ash is the shape of a thing of which nothing remains – in a way, not even ash itself. Nothing at all remains.
b. 1981, Piraeus, Greece
Lives and works in Athens. She studied Conservation of Antiquities and Works of Art at the Technological Educational Institute (TEI) of Athens. She went on with her studies at the Athens School of Fine Arts (ASFA) and at the Facultad de Βellas Αrtes, Madrid, on a state scholarship. She continued at the ASFA with a postgraduate programme in visual arts. She works as an associate at the workshop of Nikos Navridis at the ASFA since 2011. Maria Tsagkari focuses on the concepts of the ephemeral, offering, and thanking, while creating works that cannot be preserved over time. Sometimes using ashes that she ritually collects by burning wood and processing the remains, sometimes sewing flowers together or practicing actions of a ceremonial character, the elemenents that form her works are collected and then are either offered or reused. She has participated in group exhibitions such as: Art you fashion me?, Guy Laroche Store, Athens (2013) • Rooms 2013, St. George Lycabettus Hotel, Gallery Kappatos, Athens (2013) • Subproducts, Technopolis, Gazi, Athens (2013) • Salon des Artistes Independants, Grand Palais de Champs-Elysees, Paris (2012) • Generation of the 30’s, The Aggelos & Leto Katakouzenos Foundation, Athens (2012) • 100 years since the Balkan Wars, War Museum, Athens (2012) • Action Field Kodra, Thessaloniki (2012) • 30 x 30 x 30, Chiaki Kamikawa Contemporary Art, Cyprus (2012) • A-projects, TAF! (the art foundation), Athens (2011) • Survival kit, gallery Genesis, Athens (2011).