The flag and its new entity
Yannis Koumentakis created a new work at the open space near the Venetian port of Rethymnon, adding to the special character of his personal work the experience, the memory, the relationship with the place—his native city.
His works —recognisable for the coupling of art and architecture, the readymade and the artistic gesture upon it, the forms and the ‘handmade’ signs of words which acquire volume through colour— become here a single in-situ environment with the use of the flag and its new entity.
The familiar wood employed by YK forms the pole of each flag while the fabric, i.e. the main body of the flag, depicts the words —visual events, always—as signs and forms of energy.
Yet what do words mean in this project? As always, they take active part in the artistic action which fuses together gestures and concepts.
This current project represented another turning point as the artist seeks to achieve synergy. Instead of using his own words or phrases, he resorts to the inspiration of his friend Costis Kallergis (KIGK), a lawyer who serves also the important art of composing mantinades — with excellent results.
Thus the flags of YK, a sea of colours and balance next to the natural blue, have these peculiar signs which can even be sung this time.
This is the second exhibition organised for YK by the Museum of Contemporary Art of Crete. This time, the presence of the works in the open air acquired a further significance beyond that of turning real objects into art.
In the history of modernism, it is the real world which restores the relationship between the viewer’s gaze and the artwork. And while the installation has the usual traits which determine the artwork’s time and space, here Koumentakis adds also an identification with his own past, a contradictory relationship defined by his cellular memory. In a way, the acquired knowledge of making art fuses with experience in an indivisible body which promotes this new work of 2013.
By incorporating this project of Yannis Koumentakis in the events for the city’s Renaissance Festival, we also promote the additional relationships and the context of this work and its meanings.
Each flag has its own mantinada, the kind of song which has a stronger tradition that any other art in Crete. The Venetian word mandinata (mandinatta, in Italian) denotes the 15-syllable serenades sung at dawn by young people under the windows of beautiful girls after a night’s revelling. So the word mantinada has been known since the time of Venetian rule in Crete, although this kind of popular song had been known since the Byzantine era, when it was called Katalogion; folk songs of the night, always in 15-syllable verse.
Yet memory may reach even further back in time. Could its roots go back to the songs sung in groups by our distant ancestors after feasting and drinking in the streets, when they expressed their love under the girls’ windows?
You see, contemporary art remains as the strong motive power of the artist’s energy, and so does his personal memory. In any case, both distant and recent tradition reaches our time with the desire to set off on a journey around the world from our own port, the true station of desires.
Artistic Director of
Museum of Contemporary Art of Crete