Born in Athens in 1974, Constantinos Hadzinikolaou presents an unusual case. As an artist, he inhabits the intermediate space between cinema and literature; or rather, he inhabits both spaces simultaneously, with equal intensity and a need to escape the bounds of both. As a filmmaker, he shoots fleeting silent “documentaries” without scenario on Super 8, and he creates images that seem suspended outside the flow of time. As a writer, he crafts texts of various lengths, abstract and precise, in language that is direct, almost oral, clean, often raw. He departs from an existing story, real or fictive, and becomes a kind of forger: he entangles the real with the imaginary, the political with the everyday and the personal, so that dream states becomes part of reality and reality part of his narrative.
Whether within the scope of a novel (Iakovos, 2016), a single minute of film (Human Mattress, 2005), or the hybrid zone of a text-film installation or lecture performance where documentary and fiction meet, Hadzinikolaou’s approach is poetic—or antipoetic, as he prefers to believe. It is also political, or political by chance, because in his view, the more poetic a text is (the more precise, that is), the more violent and political it becomes. He believes in the power of everyday life, through which the political can be realized. Starting with a small form, employing the tension of the instantaneous, he moves on to a grander composition through an almost methodic procedure of association. Rhythm is important to his film and text’s coexistence: as the film moves on, silently, the text becomes its absent sound that completes, as well as distorts, the story.
For documenta 14, Hadzinikolaou decided to work with two plays, the classic Woyzeck (1879) by Georg Büchner and Nikos Kasdaglis’s Tholami (1987). In his treatment, Hadzinikolaou finds unexpected connections between the intense action of Tholami, which depicts an excruciating attempt to escape a violent confrontation (presumably alluding to real events in 1980s Athens), and the stifling inertia of Woyzeck, which the author left incomplete at his death. Each story’s protagonist fails tragically, in his own way. Three new texts and two films mingle elements from the two stories with real events and further imaginings: a hybrid being with Woyzeck’s head and the Tholami hero’s body.