Olga Migliaressi-Phoca
Coco Nuts
August 23rd - September 22nd, 2015

Olga Migliaressi-Phoca’s work echoes current political and cultural concerns. Her focus is directed towards expressing (through their documentation) the, seemingly unimportant, writings imprinted on the walls by individuals that feel the need to leave a statement on the urban landscape, and make it seen by any passer by. Throughout her work, Migliaressi-Phoca introduces the character of Karagiozis to reassure that these individuals will not be ignored or drowned down. Karagiozis is a shadow puppet and fictional character of Greek folklore, originating in the Turkish shadow play Karagöz and Hacivat. He is the main character of the tales narrated in the Turkish and Greek shadow-puppet theatre. The themes of each “Karagiozis” play were adapted to various current social and political issues, as well as to historical events of Ottoman-ruled Greece. These historical “Karagiozis” plays were very popular in the past and during times of crises, as they lifted the audience’s spirits and offered hope. Through the main character, Karagiozis, a puppeteer would satirise authority figures and situations. Ugly and hunchbacked, Karagiozis represented the common folk, in a collision with everyone and everything unjust.
During Migliaressi-Phoca’s solo show Coco Nuts, the shadow puppet theatre of Karagiozis (that traditionally travelled around Greece to spread a story), traveled to Mykonos in order to examine the contemporary culture of the island. Taking into account the different connotations associated with the isle of Mykonos, the work itself feeds off the stereotypes, clichés and prevalent impressions that linger in domestic and international public opinion regarding the most popular Cycladic Island. Particularly playing off the Attraction – Repulsion attitude that had been formed, the work’s context reproduces such factors within its framework. The works as a whole aim at tapping into the specific dynamics of sexual, freedom, gender issues, popular culture & lifestyle. In doing so, the traditional figures of the Karagiozis shadow theatre were sexually liberated from society’s taboos on the subject. Karagiozis & the rest of the gang, assume roles closely related to thematics of sexual freedom, sexual orientation equality and gender equality. So for example Karagiozis The Nudist or Hadjiavatis in Drag, or Kollitiri is Transitioning, are presented in various artworks, taking a stance in promoting equality & acceptance of all, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. At the Dio Horia terrace, two neon signs created by the artist (Cocktales and Dreams, 2015 and WellCum to Mykonos, 2015), contemplated similar cultural concerns through the ironic use of another form of street photography that documents and twists iconic pop signs.