Lina’s Pigadioti “Palimpsest of Memory” or “The Threshold Between Life and Art”

                          by Dr Sozita Goudouna / Art Theorist-Curator

Rearranged memories, in a continuous recombination, with order or without order, compose a personal assemblage that blurs the threshold between art and life. 

Lina Pigadioti employs disposable objects and discarded elements as materials through which she constructs her current solo exhibition and as metaphors that allude to the disparity between personal and public reality, natural and industrial, Greek politics and its consequences, but also to the precarious and ephemeral conditions of contemporary life.

The plasticity of assemblage, collage and printing is prevalent in these art pieces that illustrate the artist’s idiosyncratic treatment of any art medium. Assemblage is not a separate medium but is based on media formations that are intermedial, in the sense that they share basic properties; assemblage combines syntactical elements that come from more than one medium but are combined into one and are thereby transformed into a new entity. 

The spatial collage that is employed in this “Palimpsest of Memory”, has structural affinities with assemblage, given that both techniques oscillate between the pictorial and the three-dimensional. As Paola Ibarra points out, assemblage at a tangible level (that is, of actual physical objects) became evident with the transformation of visual representation introduced by collage in 1912. According to Ibarra, Clement Greenberg, in his essay Collage 8, argues that Picasso and Braque incorporated, for the first time, extraneous materials into the surface of a picture in search for ‘sculptural results by strictly non-sculptural means’. In turn, cubist collage gave way to what Greenberg refers to as the ‘new sculpture’ or ‘construction-sculpture’ that revolutionised the medium – from its materials to the techniques and compositional methods.

The new sculpture, Greenberg writes, tends to abandon stone, bronze and clay for industrial materials like iron, steel, alloy, glass, plastic, celluloid, etc., which are worked with the blacksmith’s, the welder’s and even the carpenter’s tools. Unity of material and color is no longer required, and applied color is sanctioned. The distinction between carving and modeling becomes irrelevant: a work or its parts can be cast, wrought, cut or simply put together; it is not so much sculptured as constructed, built, assembled, arranged. ‘[1]

Pigadioti opens the pictorial (found objects) and sculptural to the actual gallery space in the same way that minimalists, conceptual and abstract-expressionist artists have experimented with these transpositions. Her spatial collages challenge the artwork’s status as an object and its relationship to the viewer, while they stress the social ramifications of the work of art, and the sensitivity that defines the artist’s perception of social reality.

The artist attempts to bring new life to the collage, by adding exquisitely meticulous elements, so as to re-invent her medium during this new historical and collective moment that anticipates and aspires a different future. These astonishing, arresting but also powerfully enigmatic visual objects that capture a series of annual memories are compiled in the attempt to invent a new personal narrative that will help the viewer, but also the artist to resolve the past and imagine this different future.  

The original text of our present is constantly re-written, effaced or partially erased, even overwritten by another writing surface that creates a different layer of perception, and Pigadioti's multi-layered work depicts this everlasting process in action. 

The superimposition of layers, with overlaid images, the cutting up of photos, the use of painting and drawing reveal the increased complexity amongst the elements that enable the formation of new meanings. 

In his 1845 essay titled ‘The Palimpsest’, Thomas De Quincey refers to the structure as ‘an “involuted” phenomenon where otherwise unrelated texts are interwoven, competing with, and infiltrating each other’. As Dillon notes, this idea, along with the coupling of the word with a definite article for the first time, transformed the palimpsest into a figurative entity, investing with metaphorical value that extended beyond its status as a paleographic object.‘ [2]

Pigadioti's annual assemblage of elements and objects produces a still image that composes a palimpsest of personal memories. Each piece is a tableau of memories, an almost three-dimensional composition that escapes the two-dimensional canvas, as art escapes the terms, rules and conditions of life. 

Like the palimpsest, these art pieces have a double function, they preserve the distinctness of all the elements, while exposing the contamination of one by the other, hence, the process of layering co-exists with the process of erasure and with the re-emergence of all elements in a versatile and heterogeneous composition. And it is only the passing of time that can bring to light the meaning of the older layers, as well as the threshold between life and art.                                                   


[1] Ibarra, Paola. ‘Beautiful Trash: Art and Transformation’, Revista Harvard Review of Latin  America, 14.2 (Winter 2015): 41–3.
Greenberg, Clement. Art and Culture: Critical Essays. Boston: Beacon Press, 1961: 58.
Greenberg, Clement. ‘The New Sculpture’, in ibid: 58−9.

[2] Dillon, Sarah. The Palimpsest: Literature, Criticism, Theory. Continuum, 2007 and Dillon, Sarah. “Reinscribing De Quincey’s Palimpsest: The Significance of the Palimpsest in Contemporary Literary and Cultural Studies.” Textual Practice19.3 (Fall 2005):243-263 In