Ioanna Sakellaraki: The Truth is in the Soil
Ioanna Sakellaraki explores grief and mourning in The Truth is in the Soil at Belfast Exposed.
by Sheena Campbell
Ioanna Sakellaraki is currently bringing together two distinctive chapters of the same story at Belfast Exposed.
The Truth is in the Soil now enfolds The Interval of Unreason project to create one exhibition.
Within this space, Sakellaraki explores themes of memory and loss, fiction and autobiography, the private and collective.
She investigates the capacity of images, not only to document an underlying reality, but to endlessly extend our perception.
In this exhibition a personal experience of grief becomes a universal journey through memory and memory loss.
“In the wake of witnessing loss globally within our cultures and civilisations, I want to stimulate the viewer to rethink mortality through this imagined path of departure onto a new landscape,” says Sakellaraki.
“The Truth is in the Soil reflects on how my personal story has transformed into a collective narrative of loss aiming at contributing to the collection of tales of human struggle for meaning.
“To me, these images work as vehicles for mourning perished ideals of vitality, prosperity and belonging, attempting to tell something further than their subjects by creating a space where death can exist.”
The Truth is in the Soil
The Truth is in the Soil is a five-year exploration of grief.
It began when the death of Sakellaraki’s father sparked a journey back to her homeland in Greece.
In the remote villages of the Mani Peninsula elderly women named moirologists are morally responsible for grieving.
They lead a family through the final moments with their loved ones in a collective goodbye.
Combining her personal trauma and connection to the mourners became a starting point for Sakellaraki’s exploration of collective grieving and ancestral rituals.
Photographic works in the gallery are fragments of a larger narrative.
They progress from descriptive and informative to a more metaphorical or esoteric resolution.
The exhibition begins with an image of Sakellaraki’s grieving mother.
From there it moves to veiled mourning figures. Like satellites they orbit around a large archival image of her father riding a white horse in his full blush of youth.
Recognising the fascination in her homeland being a place outside of her memory, Sakellaraki also infuses the work with Greek classical references.
Some titles evoke specific myths. For example, the image of the pomegranate tree branches titled Thia Metamorfosis.
The Truth is in the Soil ends with the archive. It is here that The Interval of Unreason starts taking its shape.
It brings together Sakellaraki’s father’s sealed photographic archives, found after his death, and landscapes.
These images are accompanied by traditional hand-stitched embroidery created by Sakellaraki and her mother.
In the silence of the archive, Sakellaraki tries to grasp the texture of life from the remains left behind.
Ioanna Sakellaraki is a Greek visual artist and researcher.
Her work investigates the relationship between collective cultural memory and fiction.
Drawing emphasis on the photographic object, process and encounter, she explores the boundaries of a primitive, yet futuristic vision of places and people.
Sakellaraki is a Belfast Exposed Futures Awardee.
The Belfast Exposed Futures Awards support artists using photography to create new work and significantly develop their practice.
The Truth is in the Soil is on display in Gallery 2 at Belfast Exposed until May 21.
GOST will publish a hardback book of the project in April. Click here to pre-order.
Main Image: Ioanna Sakellaraki ‘The Truth Is in the Soil’ exhibition, Belfast Exposed. © Ioanna Sakellaraki