Christodoulos Panayiotou: Questioning the Memorialisation

Adrastus Collection- Christodoulos Panayiotou

Untitled, 2013
Three pairs of handmade leather shoes and three cardboard shoeboxes. Dimensions variable.

Considered by worldwide recognized curator Hans Ulrich Obrist as the epitome of today’s artist, Christodoulos Panayiotou generalized expertise seamlessly bridges many spheres of enquiry and modes of practice. He belongs to an emerging generation that, in different ways, is redefining the present as a contemporary baroque, within which polyphonic oeuvres weave complex tapestries from an overproduction of material that tends to make strong demands on its audience –not only for their time but also for their trust.[1]

Artist Christodoulos Panayiotou takes as one of its starting points the invention of archaeology and its instrumental role in forging the master narrative of history. Specifically, the artist born in Limossol, Cyprus in 1978, focuses his wideranging research on the identification and uncovering of hidden narratives in the visual records of history and time. It is a discursive proposal that considers an open ended cartography for art and its territory.

Panayiotou considers how the formal structure of antiquity can be fundamentally interrogated, enabling new spaces of imagination to emerge. Adopting a diversity of strategies, Panayiotou questions how tradition is formed and authorship and authenticity are governed. Through an act of meticulous staging, the artist critiques modernity’s hyperbolic, the aspirational fabric and its inconsistent notion of progress.

Untitled (2013) by Christodoulos Panayiotou is Adrastus Collection’s most recent acquisition. In Untitled (2013) Panayiotou transforms leather handbags gifted to him by important women in his life into custom-made shoes in his own size. The work is part of an emotionally charged series that explores the fine line between biography and constructed imaginaries. Through this art piece, the artist subtly questions the notion of authenticity, and interrogates the transformative potential of art-making. The shoes will never be worn outside the fitting sessions required for their production. The symbolic value of the material is amplified here through a ceremonial process of transfiguration.

Presented at the Cyprus Pavilion during the 2015 Venice Biennale, Untitled (2015) follows a thread from Untitled (2013), where these pairs of custom-made shoes were produced with material from fake designer handbags bought on the streets of Venice in early 2015. In this body of work, Panayiotou has created an intertextual narrative; a fake of his work is constructed from a set of materials that are themselves aspirational fakes. The result is a mimetic work that raises questions about the contradictions inherent within the processes of production and authorship.


Untitled, (2015) at the Cyprus Pavilion during the 2015 Venice Biennale.

Memory and memorialisation[2], historical fragmentation and completion, are in turn central points of exploration within this project.
Panayiotou considers the transformative potential of the human in relation to the rarefied object, and critically explores the role of the readymade in contemporary practice through acts of creation and de-creation. Thus, the structures of economy are explored, materials are activated and their symbolic value is questioned.

There are no ends and no beginnings in Panayiotou’s practice, only proliferation –new stones unturned and new paths to explore. History is a data mine, a nightmare which we are trying to wake but also a dream to which we continually return.

Christodoulos Panayiotou lives and works in Paris and Limassol. Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at Point Centre for Contemporary Art, Nicosia, Cyprus; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; Casino Luxembourg, Luxembourg; CCA Kitakyushu, Japan; Centre d’Art Contemporain de Brétigny, France; Museum of Contemporary Art, St. Louis, USA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Leipzig, Germany; Kunsthalle Zürich, Switzerland and Cubitt, London, UK (among others). He has also participated in a number of group exhibitions, including Museion, Bolzano, Italy; Berlin Biennale 8, Berlin, Germany; Migros Museum, Zürich, Switzerland; dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany; CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, USA; Joan Miro Foundation, Barcelona, Spain; Witte de With, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, USA; Ashkal Alwan Center for Contemporary Arts, Beirut, Lebanon; Artist Space, New York, USA, MoCA Miami, Miami, USA.

[1] Ultich Obrist, Hans. “Christodoulos Panatiotou Wonder Land.” Rodeo Gallery. N.p., Oct. 2008. Web.

[2] Memorialisation is the process by which societies affected by violence reflect on and preserve memories of their past. Public sites are often developed to help this take place, at monuments, museums and in community meeting areas.