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I was once talking with a friend about whether he is content with the framework /context –the publication and the people constituting it– in which his texts are published. The answer he gave me would come to serve as a passé-partout for many similar ambivalent moments of my own. He told me that the framework “hurts him with the kind of pain that characterizes any framework that we choose to be part of”.
The somewhat melancholic but at the same time liberating truth of this phrase, accurately condenses all instances of shame, constraint, disgust, repulsion, and awkwardness that one feels when reflected through his social choices. Is the surface distorting, or does it perhaps reveal the absolute truth of our own inner world? Each time that a friend says something ghastly in the presence of or towards a third party, each time that our lover becomes asinine, or responds with silence to our dissonances, and, by extension, each time that the political, religious or professional community to which we “belong” exhibits characteristics which we feel are in tension with our beliefs or the image we have of ourselves, a convulsion is produced within us, an indisputable sign of good reflexes.

During puberty, along with the development of the -once uninteresting- breasts, the newfound roundness of thighs, the growth of hair in places emitting the necessary smell for the reproductive process, the envelopment of bones growing in length by muscles, “kids”, with real physical pain, are transformed into “boys” and “girls”. Along with this suffering, the inner convulsions and small contractions of breath rise sharply and steeply, making these self-conscious about the determination of their gender individuals grow away from the context par excellence : the family.

In this exhibition, the “heroine”, as Antonakis likes to call the (often cinematic, other times televisual, mythical or tragic) leading women on which his work is often focused, is named Silver, is an offspring of the imagination of the writers of the TV series 90210, and is exactly at this age.
Antonakis, a viewer of both the TV series and Silver’s life, selects “snapshots” of images and phrases from her life, reproducing them with his idiosyncratic manner, while at the same time performing a mental movement which is very familiar to adolescents and to anyone who has immersed himself in the space defined by a character’s qualities. To anyone, that is, who has probed an idealized Self, not by reducing it to a certain moral Good, but rather to a Good which carries the traits of originality because its specifications are met and, therefore, becomes Perfect. Silver is “perfect” because she fulfills the dictates of the age group she belongs to, the characteristics of which are the search for (moral, social, sexual, and professional) identity in all possible contexts and the simultaneous calling into question of these characteristics. Antonakis, by literally clothing himself in this girl –as if accepting that he is reflected on a surface–, calls into question, in plain view and with his well-known sense of humor, not only his own identity but also his idea to call it into question. Thus an issue unavoidably emerges: If one is aware that he is not the product of parthenogenesis, and he is also aware both of the materials of which he is made (i.e. the images, idols, and so on) and the processes through which they act on what he is, then what’s left for him to know, and, most importantly, what is he? Silver is idolized because she does not need to cover any distance to identify with her own self, does not carry the burden of being aware of her unoriginality, and does not seem to care anyway. She lives in the timeframe before the discovery of the monstrosity that is the polyphony of which we are made, exposing thus the web that connects the charm of youth with the protagonist’s particularity.
Antonakis’ self-portraits do not only reveal admiration and desire for the Other, but also suggest the hell that is our determination by it, as well as a terror before the possibility to discover that if this Other disappears, we won’t be anything at all. Hence, since our fall in the forest is unavoidable, in the prospect of no one hearing it, friendship is initially introduced as an “ear” in order to confirm that it is happening. Bringing back the term “curating” to its original meaning, the friend is there to care for and look after, and perhaps add one word to the well-known exhortation “Try again. Fail again. Fail better”: the word together.

Aliki Panagiotopoulou