Release is a sculpture made out of resin, completed after many years in 2011. It is a life-size body cast hanging from a stainless steel wire, one end of which is attached from the inside of the body. The body used is that of the artist. It can also be presented as an installation. It consists of photos, sketches and other fragments of body part casts, mainly of the facial expression, made out of plaster – all of which helped throughout the making, allowing the artist to experience and understand the essence of the feeling that the sculpture represents.
Looking at the RELEASE installation, a self-portrait consisting in a central cast of the suspended body and several other partial casts that float around and above it, the impression one gets is that of an explosion.
In fact, the work was created more like an implosion, since the various fragments are nothing but preparatory studies, experiments: physical experiences the artist lived in order to arrive at the cast of her whole body. Keeping a certain position, for instance with your mouth wide-open, makes you aware of even the slightest muscular tension. Elysia takes this as a challenge: she tries to reach the limit of how she can work on herself, physically.
The fragments in RELEASE are like shells, they are hollow, empty underneath. This lends the work a sense of lightness, and the aura of an ethereal/etheric body. The fragments are ghost-like traces of a body. What is ghost-like is the very idea of the artist to arrive at a transfigured body. The works of Elysia are built on the duality between empty and full, inside and outside – in this case, inside and outside the body, as the artist observes herself as if she had stepped outside her body. The process of creation, just like the finished pieces and their arrangement into an installation, are filled with a tension, which gradually builds up and begs for release, relief, and deliverance. In some of the masks the expression is that of someone gasping for breath, desperately trying to get some air. [Written by Elisabetta Zoni after a conversation with Elysia Athanatos]
Words of the artist:
‘Release’ for me was a very important project.
I used to be very closed with my Art. An outsider to the Art world and I felt I didn’t want to show my work as I would take away the purity of the intention I had when working on it only for its own sake.
Intimacy and expression at its fullest, I was looking of ways to get in contact with myself, to feel myself and to understand curtain states I was in.
It all began with a vision I had in a moment of relaxation and neutrality.
From then on, I had to bring this aethereal feeling to life.
I began by making casts of myself.
I was working alone and I wanted to feel the expression, and to find the essence of it.
It was a challenge, putting myself in difficult, upside down positions whilst keeping the expression, making the cast and also documenting it all by taking the photos.
The plaster cast was helping me feel myself, feel my body.
We live feelings from the inside and our body becomes an abstract measure of ourselves.
In this way I could get a better perspective while also curing the hurt I was going through!
The physicality of it all was important to me.
It took a long time to complete the process as, in time, my views had then changed and I had realized that if things are not shared, I will not be able to continue doing Art at this extend!
So, I completed the final sculpture and was ready to exhibit the installation of it all,
10 years from when I started.
It was really a real “Release” and a letting go.