Casting Call (2017-ongoing) is an investigation into the notion of parrhesia—the courage to speak one’s mind — approached from a comedic and excessive perspective through a series of related attempts, events and manifestations. Eleni Kamma employs performative strategies and fictional character-types rooted in popular European practices of entertainment, populist jokes and dark allegories, costumes, props, and excess to playfully ask serious questions about living well together and the role of public space and time in contemporary Europe.
From 17 February to 14 May 2023, Eleni Kamma's project Casting Call (2017-ongoing) comes to Kunsthal Gent in the form of a temporary exhibition amid the Endless Exhibition. In preparation for this, Eleni Kamma was part of Kunsthal Gent's development programme in 2022.
Eleni Kamma - Prosperity Meets Pluralism
Casting Call: Prosperity meets Pluralism
To facilitate the development of a new, locally inspired character for Casting Call, Eleni Kamma stayed in the residency of Kunsthal Gent several times in 2022. She decided to explore popular local forms of entertainment in Ghent. During extensive visits to Het Huis Van Alijn (local history and customs) and Het STAM - Stadsmuseum Gent, she was particularly drawn to the rich history of 'the spelleke of folklore' and puppetry in Ghent, from the main character Pierke - the boy who says what he wants, with a twist - who was used to entertain and morally educate the youth, to hand puppets of Churchill, Hitler, Stalin etc. from the 'Poppenspel Kindervreugd van de weerstand Gent (October 1944 - April 1945).
Initially, the plan formed to collaborate with one of the few remaining puppeteers in Ghent, Pierke Pierlala. However, instead of reviving an old play or using puppets, Kamma decided to focus on a collaboration with the performance department of KASK School of Arts in Ghent.
She joined forces with designer, performer, theatre maker, visual artist and filmmaker Hans Bryssinck and his first-year young performer students, to explore together the city of Ghent as a setting for Pierke. With this group, Kamma is developing a new work that will be produced and presented during her exhibition at Kunsthal Gent. Taking as a starting point the Characters of Casting Call and the 2018 commissioned jokes on 'prosperity and pluralism' by Pieter de Buysser, Joep Vossebeld and Margo van de Linde, the students are invited to leave the safe environment of school, to perform and film their own proposals, to speak out about prosperity and pluralism in public space within the specific Ghent context.
Eleni Kamma (1973, Athens) is a visual artist and researcher. She studied at the Athens School of Fine Arts and the Chelsea College of Art & Design in London. In 2008/2009 she was a Fine Art Researcher at the Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht. She holds a PhD Doctoral degree from Leiden University Academy of Creative and Performing Arts. Her doctoral thesis “Taking Place: Parrhesiastic Theater as a Model for Artistic Practice” and her artistic project “Casting Call (2017-ongoing)” explore the relevance of the practice of parrhesia for critical contemporary artistic practices.
Solo exhibitions have been held at the Centre de la Gravure et de l'Image Imprimée, La Louvière (2022); West Den Haag (2021); SPACE, Liege (2021), ArBA-EsA, Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Brussels (2018); Netwerk, Aalst (2015), Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki (2013); NAK Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aachen (2012); Museum Alex Mylona, Athens (2012); Wiels, Brussels (2011). Her work has been presented at various exhibition venues and festivals world-wide, including, among others, the 10thInternational Istanbul Biennial (2007); the 5th Thessaloniki Biennale (2015); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2016); ARGOS Centre for Audiovisual Arts, Brussels (2015); Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn (2013) ; the 1st Limburg Biennale, Marres, Maastricht (2020); Centre d’art Le Lait, Albi(2020); EMST National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (2017); Petach Tikva Museum of Art, Petach Tikva (2017), Casino Luxembourg, Luxembourg (2011); Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht (2008); DESTE Foundation, Athens (2007); SALT, Istanbul (2011); Dazibao, Montreal (2019); Kristianstads konsthall, Kristianstad (2020); Transmediale, Berlin (2016); Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin (2021) and Playground Festival, Museum-M, Leuven (2018). In 2012 she was the recipient of Neuer Aachener Kunstverein’s PREIS FÜR JUNGE KUNST.
Kamma has been a visiting lecturer at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, LUCA School of Arts,Brussels, MAFAD, Maastricht, Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Brussels, École nationale supérieure des arts visuels de La Cambre, Brussels and Frank Mohr Institute, Groningen. She lives and works in Brussels and Maastricht.