What are the commonalities between two 1980s commercials, one in which a blonde couple are vigorously playing something between racquetball and softball on a beach near Athens to the Dead Κennedys song “California Über Alles”; and the other, depicting a young Greek housewife frantically cleaning her already-sparkling windows while reaching a state of nirvana? And how would these commercials then relate to a short propaganda film from the junta years in Athens (1967–74), in which a family, wandering through a museum of Greek history, discusses the concept of “patriotic duty,” with the words of the elders and priests beginning to sound like satanic verses? Further still, how do these moving images connect to the recorded wanderings of an ethnomusicologist, the underground Lebanese-American musician Alan Bishop—member of the legendary Sun City Girls band and cofounder of the Sublime Frequencies label—who decided to move to Cairo shortly after the 2011 uprising to work with local musicians?
While there may seem to be no relation between these works, they make up the necessary components of one trajectory: the ongoing research and interventional observation of “history” by Marina Gioti. Influenced by a punk ethos, the artist, born in 1972 and living in Athens, adopts alternative methodologies and reveals narratives parallel to the official record. She often processes found footage from TV and cinema that she “stumbles across” in order to shed light on that which is forgotten, revisited through a critical lens. Her aim is not only to comment on the construction of the past but to also examine an invention of history in the present.
Gioti’s film works denounce the binary logic of the local and the global—whether exploring the syndrome of the “American Dream” or that of the “good housewife,” the narrative around the Church single-handedly preserving the Greek language under Ottoman rule, or the recording of a music album amid political uncertainty in Egypt. They often comment on the schizophrenia that such a logic can cause, particularly in outlying realities like that of Greece; sharing cultural affinities with Africa and the Middle East, it is also the imagined cradle of Western civilization.