Reclaiming Public Spaces

  • Researching New Aesthetic Methodologies for Politically-Engaged Art

    Christoforos Botsis

The residency of Christoforos Botsis coincided with his art practice’s transition from abstract painting to experimentation with online digital media and collage. He wished to explore how abstract painting and the material properties of an artwork can be politically-relevant through their aesthetics, rather than focusing on pure formalism. Initially, Botsis was interested in documenting decorative motifs in medieval, modern, and contemporary architecture in Armenia and how the symbolism of these motifs is informed by nationalism and shared, constructed identities. As the artist began working on a series of experimental drawings and digital collages, he found himself contemplating further how public spaces determine thought, movement, and attitudes.

Interestingly, Armenia’s recent Velvet Revolution occurred during Botsis’s stay, and he was able to witness a series of well-organized, exuberant, and, most of all, peaceful protests, which achieved the prime-minister resignation and have proved to be a watershed moment for reclaiming public space by all members of the public, across all demographics, in order to bring about meaningful political change. The artist realized how his abstract work, in order to be considered politically engaged, had to find a way to enable this process of reclaiming through its aesthetics.

Collaboration with ACSL has inspired Botsis to take the leap into pursuing a fully-digital project, and he is currently developing a web-based, interactive artwork, which will be a ‘digital nation without borders,’ in which anyone, as a citizen of this ‘digital nation’ can make contributions and engage critically with post-structural discourses on territoriality and nomadic movement. The artwork would act as a ‘rhizome,’ which would connect ideas and discourses. It is planned that this concept will be materialized later on this year.

Christoforos Botsis is a visual artist based in Athens, Greece. He studied Fine Arts at the University of Reading (UK) and for a term at Monash University in Australia, achieving a BA in Fine Arts in 2014. In 2016, he achieved an MA in Contemporary Art Theory at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Since 2011, he has participated in several group exhibitions in the UK and in Greece, and during his studies used to run art workshops for teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds.