4 Cents: On Show For 500 Years – Georgia Kotretsos

4 Cents: On Show For 500 Years – Georgia Kotretsos

The site-specific installation 4 Cents: On Show For 500 Years (2018) by Georgia Kotretsos (b.1978) addresses global environmental issues such as the plastic waste pollution in the sea. With the use of liquid glass and resin technique, Kotretsos converts real plastic bags into compact objects, which then pass through a process of copper-galvanoplasty, paint and polishing. The black objects in the shape of used plastic bags are then placed at the rocky beach of the hotel and into the sea creating a peculiar monument of time passing and an inconspicuous museum of human recklessness and opportunism. About eight million tonnes of plastic waste enter the oceans each year, while according to Green- peace 96% of the garbage in the Mediterranean Sea is plastic. The plastic bags used by the Greeks to transport goods and waste constitute half of the waste in the waters of Greece.

Georgia Kotretsos is a visual artist, researcher, instructor in visual arts and a “professional spectator” based in Athens, Greece. She holds an MFA Degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the USA and a BFA Degree from the Durban Institute of Technology, in KwaZulu Natal in South Africa. With her work, she critiques the conformity of seeing by studying, proposing and practicing liberating and anarchic approaches of looking at art in an effort to sustain that seeing is site-specific and that spectatorial emancipation constitutes the source of knowledge. Through her research-based practice, she encourages speculative approaches on what is knowledge and how knowledge can be produced. An important point of reference for the overall work of Kotretsos is institutional critique, that is, the interconnection of actors of the art world with the mechanisms of dissemination and reception of art (for instance private or public museums and collections). She is also partic- ularly interested in socially engaged art practices, although her position on this issue is rather social acceptance and not the widespread strategy of advocating change.

With 4 Cents: On Show for 500 Years Kotretsos addresses environmental issues, which are part of our everyday life. The ‘4 cents’ in the title of the work refers to the so called ‘environmental fee,’ which is charged per piece of plastic bag, while the ‘500 years’ refer to the time it takes for plastic to decompose even if were about to stop sea pollution today. The artist refers to world campaigns against the use of plastic, which will ensure that this ‘archetypal form’ of late modernity will exist for the coming eighty years; while by the completion of the centenary, it will have officially exited our life. In 1960 the plastic made a dynamic entrance when invented by the Swedish engineer Sten Gustaf Thulin and quickly established itself in the then commercial world. Today, Sweden ranks third among the most environmentally friendly countries. While this trivial object is now demonized, its future ‘heroic exit’ from our lives is seen as a promise for social improvement.

4 Cents: On Show for 500 Years asks us to consider what does personal memory and care mean in the context of a ‘social contract’ which promotes the impenetrable, impersonal and ephemeral. What does it mean if, given the ongoing pollution, the marine “museum of the future” will consist of the waste that does not belong to anyone but to all of us? Since objects alone are not capable of conveying meaning, acquiring a specific meaning lies primarily in the social relationships in which objects take part. Kotretsos takes this trivial object as a trigger to explore our relationship with our material culture in general and the place of sculpture (which is often referred to in the commonplace) today.


Curator by: Sotirios Bahtsetzis

Location: Minos Beach art hotel, Agios Nikolaos, Crete

Duration: Permanent collection | Project Assignment| Grand Opening 1.7.2018

Catalog Editor: Sotirios Bahtsetzis

Participating Artists: Georgia Kotretsos