“…We were young back then and we believed that we could change the world … “
In the exhibition entitled "Picnic in North Korea" Fasouli discovers and transforms parts from the personal archive and collection of the architect Jenny P. into works-tributes to a woman she never met. Jenny P. was born in Piraeus in 1934. In 1950 she left Greece for Paris in order to study architecture. She soon became a member of the D.E.S.A. and joined the French Communist Party with whom she begun to travel regularly to several countries like North Korea. She lived and worked in Paris until her retirement and in 1997 she returned to Athens where she lived in Zografou until her death in 2014.
Focusing on the years between 1960 and 1978 Fasouli manipulates archival material like travel photos from North Korea, slides, personal items, pages from a publication dedicated to the Sacred Mountain of the Revolution (Mount Paektu), architectural studies, even snapshots from a carefree picnic with friends in a Parisian suburb on May '68. This very personal account is drawn in a period of intense ideological and social developments in Europe that is revealed through texts, photographs, drawings and narratives of Jenny P. and her close circle of family and friends.
What were the dreams and expectations of those times? The architectural projects undertaken by Jenny P. during her career were mainly working class housing projects in various suburbs of the rapidly expanding Paris of the time. She was interested -as she put it- in an architecture "for the people". For many, as well as for her, that was the opportunity of urban planning and architecture to bring about changes in world's perceptions around social structures. Through a large collection of information that could form Jenny P.'s profile, those characteristics who are of particular importance to Fasouli -beyond of course her status as an architect- is her position as a leftist, feminist, immigrant and traveler -and not necessarily to this exact order.
The process followed by Fasouli ultimately remains open and inexhaustible as she processes fragments and recreates an imaginary and ultimately timeless image of Jenny P. from which the elements that would eventually lead to the identification of the real-life person and its time are missing. As Jenny mentions in an essay from 1966:
“In our time, however, more than yesterday the urban planning problem has become one of the most important. In the big cities of today, man suffocates and wonders about the future of his city, the City. As far as to the question of which will the future of the city be, we can only reply to that by placing it in the right economic-social-political context. We will not be able to change the city in depth unless we change society first. And the question WHAT CITY should be replaced by the question WHAT SOCIETY? “
Courtesy of the artist & CAN Christina Androulidaki
Gallery Photo by Dimitris Foutris