ANGELOS CLADIS | 27 SEP 2023
It is afternoon and in the bowels of the factory on Kifisos Avenue, in the underground wing where the warehouses are normally located and clerks come and go loading the threads for packaging, I notice a building column that differs from all the others. It is the only one that is not "naked": the reinforced concrete has been covered by a thick layer of coarse-grained salt, like a natural coating like those formed by the wave on the rocks of the salt flats, after years of "work". At the base of this column, fragments of the white seasoning have formed small hills.
Shine – is a column of salt.
The installation belongs to the visual artist Clairi Tsalouhidis – Chatziminas and in a comprehensive way conveys the feeling inside the Kifiss factory with the Butterfly sign. Once, this was the "headquarters" of the all-powerful textile industry of Eleftherios Mouzakis, which employed a total of up to 1,500 workers in nine production units with morning-evening shifts. But for years, the factory in Kifissos has been the only one of the "golden thread" that remains in operation, employing a little more than 100 people.
Claire Tsalouhides-Hatziminas, Lot's Wife (2023)
The steps in the stairwells melted by walking, the rows of machines waiting patiently for an order, but also the incredibly great expertise in the thread that you discover while walking the wings, to make the "glaze", the "mercerize" and the other hundreds codes that supplied Greek households in the previous decades, are – metaphorically – the salt of this story. A symbol of the painful freeze of industry in the country.
How did we get here?
As the curator and responsible for the conception of the project, Kostas Prapoglou, explains to me, "things around us may seem random, but in fact they are not". The name of the iconic industry led to the title and the theoretical core of the visual exhibition: "The Butterfly Effect". The well-known hypothetical example, that is, which conveys the idea that every act in the present, no matter how small, is inevitably going to bring about a chain of changes in perpetuity into the future. And to look at it the other way around, every current event is a result of the past.
I ask him if determinism is somewhat single-minded or simplistic these days.
"But, everything else," he answers me, referring to the theories of chaos and quantum mechanics involved. "And Mouzaki's story itself is an example, after all." A demonic business mind who started from scratch, chased out of Asia Minor with his family, who if he hadn't clashed with his employer, might never have decided to build his own business and thus her colossus would never have been born Butterfly.
Maria Loizidou, Drawings: The game of thread | Fixing the Ephemeral (2023)
Factory in the morning, exhibition in the evening
Prapoglou's curatorial identity is more or less known, after the blockbuster exhibitions in Dafni: following a process analogous to that of an archaeologist (something he has also studied, in addition to architecture), he unearths spaces practically inaccessible to the public, spaces in decline or completely abandoned, with high symbolism and interest. The literal and metaphorical axis on which he has been moving in recent years is the Holy Road.
Somehow, Mouzaki's factory had come into his field of vision. Until last year, by coincidence, he met the grandson of the Mouzaki family, John Paul Gagnum, who at that time had assumed the role of president of the company. The butterfly phenomenon, as it would later prove, worked, and in December '22 the curator was inside the Kifisos facilities for the first time, starting the implementation phase.
The first and foremost challenge he had to face, something he had not been called upon to manage again, was that the works would have to be set up and remain on view within the factory wings, while in the mornings the work of the workers would continue as normal .
How did this come about?
"With a lot of study," he replies. "I spent a lot of time in the factory, observing the flows of the workers – to see where we wouldn't get in the way and wouldn't get in the way, which machines would turn on and which wouldn't, to ultimately find a way for those two worlds to coexist." As he explains to me, without the help of the company's employees, it would have been quite impossible to find this golden ratio. "I have to say that I have never met such willingness before. It's not just that they respected us, they embraced us . "
Alison Woods, Chrysalis (2023)
Installation by Lias Petrou and video projection by Dimitris Skurogiannis.
Shifts start in the morning and end at three in the afternoon.
"During the period when we were setting up the exhibition, I remember, they would gather every morning in front of the works, before we arrived, and they would discuss, make their own analyzes of what they might symbolize. And since the opening of the exhibition you will see that in the morning they come to work and in the afternoon they return as visitors with their families, their friends". The faces I saw during my own visit were happy, proud.
"It's the first time something like this has happened and they're excited, because what they thought was meaningless, a day job, they saw that people are finally interested, that it's worth it."
A shocking revelation
Toil is the invisible protagonist of this exhibition.
The waters you might get in the dyers wing are the few that are left and haven't evaporated since the morning shift. In working conditions, it is very hot in there, there are fumes, while trolleys come and go carrying the dyed threads, and the whole floor is covered in water – luckily, the toxic dyes have been removed, so the workers don't have to deal with the unpleasant smell either which used to be the case in Mouzaki's dyehouses, as I learned from stories.
"Water is the oldest traveler and the wisest," narrates the video display by Iranian visual artist Kiana Honarmand, showing two hands washing incessantly, as any worker would do after their shift. The conception of the work is based on the poetic view that water is the witness of the uninterrupted continuity-flow through time. The thread of temporality returns at various points in the exhibition. It is the concept of "interconnectedness" that the butterfly effect alludes to, after all.
Video by Iranian Kiana Honarmand.
It is a route-experience lasting at least two hours: The visitor has to explore more than 10,000 m2, going down at some stage to the basement and finally crossing the distance to the opposite wing underground. In the corridors, the warehouses and the rooms with the monstrous machines, at a sufficient distance from each other so that they can "breathe" and unfold their potential to the maximum, there are the works of 41 visual artists.
Almost all of them are new productions, worked after visits of visual artists to the factory. In fact, for the names that came from abroad, "it was like a residency – they worked for a month and then produced the work".
This privilege is not common and, of course, it is reflected in the result.
That is why you treat the visit to Mouzaki's factory as a shocking revelation: a revelation that is not only about the evocative industrial space, but about yourself and your past. The feeling of transformation, as you will feel absorbed in front of the slides of Marianna Strapatsakis, while they swirl and from them the charming, winged insect is born.
Marianna Strapatsaki, Flight of Life (2023)
The Butterfly Effect
Mouzakis Factory – Butterfly (41 Kifisou Avenue)
Opening hours: Thursday-Sunday 3:30-8:30
PM Free entry
editing + concept design: Dr. Kostas Prapoglou
Eozen Agopian, Lydia Andrioti, Christina Anid, Anna Antarti, KlitsaAntoniou, Ruth Asawa, Orit Ben Shitrit, Robert Cahen, Irene Carvajal, Irini Gonou, Susan Daboll, Lydia Dambasina, Sophia Zarari, Eleni Zouni, Michal Heiman, Kiana Honarmand, Pushpakaran Kadappath, Anita Kalimeri, Marianna Konstantis, Maria Loizidou, Iliodora Margelou, Despina Meimaroglou, Stella Meletopoulou, Manolis Babousis, Eva Nathena, Theodoros Noutsos, Sandra Osborne, Ada Petranaki, Leah Petrou, Pipilotti Rist, Evi Savvaidi, Ismeni Samanidi, Dimitra Skandali, Dimitris Skourogiannis, Franca Sonnino & Maria Jole Serreli, Marianna Strapatsaki, Nikos Tranos, Claire Tsalouchidou - Chatzimina, Alison Woods, Maria Andromachi Chatzinikolaou.
Original Link to Greek and English can be accessed here:
Original link in Greek and English can be accessed here: