Remainders at the End of a Summer Bliss, by Lanfranco Aceti, is a curatorial essay that surveys Bill Balaskas’s exhibition, Remains of a Summer Bliss, at the Kalfayan Galleries, Athens and Thessaloniki. Featured on their new platform, Contemporary Arts and Cultures (CAC), the essay is published by the Leonardo Electronic Almanac (LEA), MIT Press. In a globalized context of ruthless capitalism, this curatorial essay examines from afar the drama of Mediterranean societies which have ensured their own demise by operating according to Mediterranean values of corruption and ineptitude. The analysis of this collapse is not a simplistic survey of the reasons that may have lead to these circumstances, as they are all partial and inadequate in justifying the past two decades of progressive failure, but is rather a sharpened and angered acknowledgment of the cultural inability to rebel, to generate change, or to alter a course that has been set forth by ‘other forces.’ It is this miserable existence—between the inability to resurge caused by a lack of self-criticism and the constant shifting of blame while waiting for yet again another political savior—that the curator attacks via a critique that refuses to take prisoners.
This critique visualizes a Mediterranean both engulfed in flames and lit by the flashing colored lights of parties—as in the opening scenes of The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza, 2013)—that celebrate with the twitching of bodies in the engulfing flames and lights not the end of life, but the last throes of death. Summer is at an end, and the only thing left is the cultural trash upon which we celebrate the iconicity of de-valued and de-moralized existences.
Through detailed analysis of Balaskas’s works and related exhibition, Aceti lashes out against contemporary societies and examines how each artwork pins to the wall the hypocrisies, platitudes, and certainties of a world at its wits end.
Remainders at the End of a Summer Bliss is one of several chapters included in a forthcoming book entitled End of a Summer Bliss.