legacy of memory
Aimilia Balaska creates photographic installations in order to explore the concept of collective memory. Using the encaustic technique, a post-Hellenistic art lost over the centuries, she tries to pay tribute to the refugees of Samos. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Asia Minor Catastrophe, this technique is used again in order to open a debate, related both to the era of the removal of populations from Asia Minor to the islands of the North-East Aegean, and to the cultural need to preserve a memory, blurred in nowadays.
The photos are from the archive of Samos and in this project function as primary material in the creation of 7 wooden pieces with dimensions of just over half a meter. The encaustic technique is respectfully used to place and process the photographs on the wood. However, the faces of the depicted remain as they are, thus gathering the greatest possible attention of the viewer. The work was inspired by the tradition of the Fayum funerary portraits, which go back in history for the realistic rendering of the faces through the use of wax and egg tempera – materials that combined with the climate of Egypt – kept the memory of those depicted alive as a photo snapshot.
The photograph, as the most realistic of the media that Aimilia uses, functions in this work as a symbol of the carefully preserved memory which is “washed” with wax colour and wax. Tools of the creative process but also documents of a sacred approach to memory through the element of flame that has always accompanied the concept of loss. Here, the loss of the homeland which, through this work, is recalled. It is a narrative of the journey of the people of Asia Minor and their imprint on their new place where they were to become heirs and heritage.