For the exhibition – Substitutes – at the Kultererben (June 2019, Berlin), Kali Nikolou presented her work titled “Let me be called ‘Vojvodina’…”. Influenced by the aesthetics of a Greek family home, she displayed objects that carry specific memories. The objects were not “real” or original, which puts a different complexion on the question of how objects and materials reveal social identities.
The title of the work comes from the Greek proverb “Let me be called ´Vojvodina` even if I´m dying of hunger” meaning that prestige is worth it even if you live miserably. This sentence is used often in Greece to describe people who have in their possession objects that cannot actually afford.
The objects on display were made of cheap materials that gave the impression of being something else. Styrofoam gave the impression of being wood, an icon was made of silver foil and tape, a plastic cup became a Greek ceramic pot. We cannot understand these objects without memory, whether it is of home, of the elsewhere, or of the material itself. In the processes of material mimesis, new identities are constructed of the object, the owner, the producer, as well as the viewer. Observing is thus exposed as being an assemblage of values, prejudice, and hope.