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Spotlight: Christos Voutichtis – All About Mistakes

Christos Voutichtis All About Mistakes

Christos Voutichtis / Studio URMA deals with the creation and manipulation of information in his series of works ‘All About Mistakes’.

If we remember our childhood, everyone played silent mail once. In this game, children form a line. The first child thinks of a word or phrase to whisper to the next child. This word is whispered from child to child until it reaches the end of the line. The last in line then recites aloud what the Silent Post has transmitted to him or her. The word salad that comes out at the end usually automatically creates a surprise.

If we transfer this principle to the handling of data, we find that the same thing happens here. Information moves in a kind of loop from the moment it is created until it reaches us. Again and again, important fragments of the context are lost in the process. As a consequence, they lose their accuracy. Voutichti’s starting point is theorized by Jean Baudrillard’s simulation theory, which appears in Baudrillard’s ‘Simulacres et Simulation’ in 1981.

Starting from this phenomenon, the artist develops a method that takes up this problem and creates works from it that find expression across disciplines. The starting point is a black circle on a white sheet of paper. With the help of a photocopier, the artist begins to duplicate the existing information, he makes the copy, of the copy, of the copy. As in the game of Silent Post, “mistakes” creep in piece by piece. Information crosses, penetrates and overlaps. The circle stretches, its contours fade. The process is repeated until no reference remains that can refer to a circle. The circle, as a perfect geometric body loses its original identity and mutates into a fractal structure.

This process has resulted in an extensive material library of approximately 250 different patterns, which the artist arranges in collages. Individual fragments are isolated and assembled into new patterns. From these, Voutichtis develops modules that enable him to generate complex compositions through serial arrangement. From these, Voutichtis develops screen prints that are characterized by their three-dimensional figuration.

Voutichtis belongs to a New York-based group of artists who, since the early 2000s, have been manipulating billboards and hoardings and repurposing them for their art. With the help of the grouping, Voutichtis was able to install large-format City Light posters at numerous bus stops and in the pedestrian zones of Lisbon.

The artist makes the leap in scale from paper to large-scale murals with the help of laser technology, which he uses to produce stencils from flexible acrylic glass. In the summer of 2017, on the occasion of the art festival Loures Arte Pública, which took place in Lisbon for the fourth year in a row, the artist had the opportunity to present this work to the public in the form of a black-and-white mural spanning three buildings. Here he deliberately chose the Quinta do Mocho district. A socially deprived neighborhood on the northeastern city limits of Lisbon, which due to a lack of infrastructural connection to the center of the city is becoming increasingly marginalized. A periphery that fissures as if in a parallel reality on the outer edge of the city’s circle.

The motif was applied to the walls of the buildings, measuring 12 x 18 m, using the stencils made of acrylic glass.  Synthetic spray paints and about 20 liters of turpentine were used to allow the still wet paint to fade and dissolve. This created flowing grays and smooth transitions.

Based on his material palette, the artist developed screen prints, as well as sculptures and audiovisual works, in addition to mural painting.