by Maro Psyrra
In 2014 Kostis Spanopoulos, in collaboration with the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, presented the artistic installation Super Food at the ex-military camp Kodra (outside Thessaloniki), where “taking the modern mythology surrounding energy drinks as a starting point” he created “a conceptual jigsaw, connecting particular products with the ideological decadence of contemporary reality”. His installation morphologically followed the style of supermarket shelves, where multiple copies-creations by the artist were stacked together, sparking the spectator’s critical perception of the human relationship with contemporary material culture.
A year later, and following on from his solo exhibition at the Artforum/Tsatsis Gallery (Thessaloniki), Kostis Spanopoulos has worked in the same manner on a series of engravings and digital prints. These natural “products” (lobsters, shrimp, crabs, pigs, chickens etc.) are depicted wearing expensive jewellery with precious stones. The correlation of these seemingly antithetic images was the creative springboard for the creation of a new installation which bears in its centre not only the concepts of “value” and “luxury” but also “crassness”, bringing forth their fluidity and also the new content they acquire in the context of contemporary reality.
Utilizing the technical knowledge he acquired through goldsmithery and the art of engraving, Kostis Spanopoulos moved on to the multiple reprinting of these images onto packages of consumption (magazines, crisps, sweets), composing a new polysemic “department store” of goods. The multivalence of his work is reinforced by the acts of the artist himself: Spanopoulos uses gastronomical and gemological terminology, he converts the “luxury” work of art into everyday consumeristic packaging, he uses images of live “products” wearing “eternal” diamonds and rubies, and finally he enriches the image through speech, thus raising various questions with regards to the value standards of contemporary consumerist culture.
Even in the case of the logos or the visual identity of the objects-works of art, Spanopoulos, through the repetition of the image and particular phrases (e.g. Bijuterie Culinaire, which can be translated as “culinary goldsmithery”) invites the spectator to participate in a conceptual game which creates multiple readings and activates a critical approach. As in the case of Super Food, in this installation, matter – as a product and a value – is reintroduced to the public and the “good” is not presented as idealized but encompasses various critical interpretative ramifications. Spanopoulos’ installation measures the worth, or rather ponders upon the value which people place upon material culture, in an era characterized by the “deification” of the object and the constant pricing of goods.
 Part of that particular installation belongs to the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art’s permanent collection. For more: Maro Psyrra, “Super food. Kostis Spanopoulos”, Kodra 2014, Action Field Kodra exhibition catalogue, Thessaloniki, p. 191.
The text was first published in Kostis Spanopoulos, (exh.cat.), Artforum/Tsatsis Gallery (Thessaloniki), Thessaloniki, Greece, 2015, p.4
Images are courtesy of the artist (Kostis Spanopoulos)