Room 518

Video – site-specific installation

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Extract from the discussion on the installation, between Rositsa Pandelieva and Eleni Mpaliou (audio)

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Curatorial text

In the context of Rooms 2016, the annual exhibition that takes place every year in a luxury hotel in Athens, visual artist Ioanna Neophytou takes advantage of the multifunctional use of space; in this case its twofold function, both as a working environment and as a space of exhibition. In her new video – installation Room 518, she focuses her attention on the hotel room as a working environment and specifies the interest of her video to the chambermaid, a marginalised figure of the hotel service.

While entering the room, the audience faces a freshly clean room, ready to welcome the new customers. In this set, the artist chose to project a video where writer and chambermaid Eleni Mpaliou cleans the room of the exhibition. At the same time, the audience can hear her discussion with an anonymous cleaning lady which works for a prominent artistic institution in Greece. Through the close-up shots of the working hands of Eleni Mpaliou, the repeated robotic use of the cleaning equipment obtains a paroxysmal quality. Among the cleaning sounds, the discussion of the two women becomes dominant; through the narration of their experiences within the working environment of the hotel and the art institution, the artist highlights several ignored aspects of their profession as well as their relationship with art.

The often anecdotal nature of their discussion offers a temporary escape from the cruel reality of their profession. In this case, the domestic work, often synonymous to the female occupation within the household, overgrows the thematic core of the installation. Ioanna Neophytou introduces current forms of social reality to her artistic dictionary, adapting a critical regard.

Maria Kyveli Mavrokordopoulou


Rooms 2016,
Group exhibition of contemporary art, organised by Kappatos Gallery.
Saint George Lycabettus Hotel, 14/1/2016 – 31/1/2016, Athens, Greece

*The installation Room 518 was evolved in a split screen documentary in 2019, under the title Hands in Bleach.

Credits / Contributions:

Chambermaid: Eleni Mpaliou
Cleaning Lady: Ροσίτσα Παντελίεβα

Direction of Photography: Yiorgos Mpakalis
Montage: Ioanna Neophytou
Sound recording: Kostas Karadinos, Dimitris Stamatis
Sound Design: Dimitris Stamatis
Production: Dimitris Stamatis
Curating: Maria Kyveli Mavrokordopoulou
Organisation: Kappatos Gallery Athens
Communication: Yiorgos Katsonis

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