Zoi Gaitanidou’s work is a complex mixture of painting and embroidery. Originally trained as a painter, Gaitanidou creates her works on both a microscopic and macroscopic level constantly zooming in to sew each detail and stepping away to view the entire composition. She uses color as a tool in her recurring alternation between abstraction and representation. Her deconstructive method entails a delicate balance between adding and subtracting material from the canvas support, demonstrating the coexistence of opposing forces. This strenuous and time-consuming effort is a testament to the artist’s meditative grasp of the world, which is the conceptual focus of her practice. The artist has created a fictional humanoid tribe that resides in a jungle and seems to be untouched by the evolution of Western civilization. In essence, the tribe presented in the work is a depiction of man’s basic universal instincts and emotions.
Gaitanidou’s solo show Risk Aversion is a study on human reaction to fear. The backdrop is the menacing environment of the wild that acts as a vacuum of logic and reason, thus allowing raw emotion to prevail. The bodies of the tribe’s schematic figures are covered with colorful motifs disclosing a precedent time of joy. The juxtaposition of the silent cries in their facial expressions intensifies the sense of horror when danger arises. It is said that when faced with fear, the choice to avoid danger either by escaping, confronting, or grinding to a halt before it, the so-called fight-flight-or-freeze response, is instinctive, almost primitive. Gaitanidou illustrates the naivete with which members of the tribe deal with a set of trivial hazards that in fact pose no threat. The impulsive reactions presented are to freeze or to avoid the source of peril without first reasoning with the actual cost of facing and most likely overcoming it.
Risk aversion, a behavioral term generally associated with financial investment that suggests assessing the value of the cost in order to minimize the risk factor of the profit, is an allegory for today’s socio-economic conditions and the constant uncertainty for what lays ahead. Zoi Gaitanidou’s Risk Aversion aims to act as a parable for the way one must rationalize the instinctive fear of the unknown and ultimately exceed it. Driven by her own creative method, Gaitanidou proposes a constant view of both the details and the whole, the abstract and the representational, the adding and detracting in order to realize that a perpetual state of unjustified fear is too high a cost to pay.
By Evita Tsokanta