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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 15 December 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 15 DECEMBER 2018 17 ART Andrea Wild Botero, one of the women spearheading Mexico’s cultural renaissance honours her Greek heritage Putting a contemporary spin on tradition We speak to artist Sonia Zymantas about her latest project, giving people the chance to give voice to their own personal, contemporary experiences and traditions ANASTASIA TSIRTSAKIS O ver time as traditions are carried out, their evolution is only natural, while some are even found to no longer be relevant to younger generations in a contemporary context. One such example in the Greek community is the dowry, or proika as it is known, a custom which saw mothers use traditional textile crafts on linen collected for their daughters to be passed on when they married as somewhat of a rite of passage. In her latest work, The Dowry Project, Melbournebased multi-disciplinary artist and community arts worker Sonia Zymantas tapped into her own Greek heritage and turned the dowry on its head to examine such cultural traditions through a feminist lens, by giving the public the chance to acknowledge their own personal traditions. "A lot of love went into the dowry I'm sure. Our parents were collecting because they thought it would be something of value for their children. But now we've got a more sort of modern and less thought out kind of lifestyle - like the flat pack. So I was kind of curious about that as a starting point for a conversation," Sonia told Neos Kosmos. Put on at the One Night in Footscray Festival last month, the project - a combination of installation and performance - welcomed people, namely Mum-to-be Andrea Wild Botero at home in her Colonia Roma apartment, wears a Fendi dress and her own jewellery. The sculpture to her left is by her grandmother Sophia Vari. PHOTO: STEFAN RUIZ, STYLED BY GIANLUCA LONGO FOR W MAGAZINE A Sonia with one of the participants of The Dowry Project at One Night in Footscray last month. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED women, of all cultures to go along and have a oneon-one embroidery and conversation session with Sonia, during which the artist posed what proved to be a rather poignant question: What's a meaningful tradition for you in your own culture? What does it mean? "For example, are you less Greek if you don't want to get married? Or are you less Greek if you don't consider yourself religious? All those things. It really opened up so many doors for conversation," Sonia reflected. "I don't think people have really thought about what they would like. I don't think anyone's ever been consulted about what's valuable to them as a tradition. I think they hadn't really had a chance to think about 'what do I identify with?'" But with Sonia finally having given them the opportunity, it was a question that really got people thinking. They were then instructed to write it down, and if there was time start embroidering it themselves, or leave it in the capable hands of Sonia. She has since posted the final pieces, with people's personal traditions, on social media, tagging them in what has resulted in a meaningful piece of work. The project was also a chance to look at gendered stereotypes, and to examine the language that supports them. While some of Sonia's work has drawn on her Greek background as a means of connecting with others, it stems from her greater passion for creating avenues through which people can communicate and document their untold stories and contemporary urban experiences. As a community arts worker, her interests in feminism, multiculturalism, and urban identity will see her head to Athens next June to visit Victoria Square Project, a socially engaged arts organisation. "I really like that line of thinking, of being able to activate spaces and provide other dialogues, other than the mainstream and the stereotype of what should be on offer ... people being able to engage with the space, it's nice." ndrea Wild Botero is more than a famous name in the circles of the art world with her company Artemisia being regarded as Latin America's Christie's or Sotheby's. Artemisia is a curated, online marketplace for Mexico-based art collectors who are in constant search of growing, evolving and nurturing the collections they've built with time and love. All the works one will find in Artemisia's collection have been consigned by private collectors and are physically in the country. Born in Colombia, Wild Botero lived in Mexico City between the ages of three and 18 when she left to study art in New York and London. But she always had a soft spot for Ancient Greek history and its influence on art in general, hence her company's name. Her love for art and art history comes from her family's heritage with her grandfather being Colombian artist Fernando Botero who fell madly in love with her grandmother, the famous Greek sculptor Sophia Vari. Following in her grandmother's footsteps, at just 31 the mum-to-be has worked for galleries as diverse as Acquavella in New York, Blain/Southern in London, and Gmurzynska in Zurich, returning to her hometown of Mexico to find a bustling contemporary art market. After working for the Museo Tamayo for a year-and-a-half, Botero started Artemisia, seeing a hole in the market when it comes to direct sales between collectors. "It's something that's very established in the United States and Europe, but it was missing in Mexico," Wild Botero told the acclaimed W Magazine that featured her as one of the women spearheading Mexico's cultural renaissance. "If you wanted to sell an important piece, you had to send it to Christie's or Sotheby's in New York. There is a boom happening here, and it's not just about the top tier of the art world. There is a whole new group of people who want to learn more about art," she enthused, adding that she plans to bring bigname exhibitions to Mexico from around the world. Botero named her company after the controversial Artemisia I of Caria, a Greek queen of the ancient Greek city-state of Halicarnassus and of the nearby islands of Kos, Nisyros and Kalymnos within the Achaemenid satrapy of Caria in about 480 BC. She is mostly known through the writings of Herodotus who praises her courage and the respect in which the Persians held her.
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