Introduced to video by Nam June Paik, Angela Melitopoulos links the moving image to displacement, and with a method of researching and producing images that maps the landscapes of twentieth- and twenty-first-century Europe and are packed with memories to reveal other political imaginaries. Personal histories, including her own, are the point of departure to examine themes such as the memory of political refugees deported from Turkey to Greece in the 1920s, many of whom, including family members, were subjected to forced labour and were frequently relocated. A shared history of violence and discrimination, perpetually under the threat of suppression and oblivion by official accounts and the existing system, can thus be analysed through the prism of the migratory experience and dissident and minority subjectivities.
Crossings, a piece created specifically for documenta 14 (2017) — traditionally organised in Kassel, Germany, but in this edition also held in Athens as a one-off — calls the relationships between North and South into question. The work sets forth the social and psychological impacts of the 2008 recession in Greece — the cradle of Western civilisation turned by that point into the epicentre of two of Europe’s biggest crises: the refugee crisis and the debt crisis. The tension caused by the crossover of images and sounds in this video installation reflects the consequences of the current socioeconomic system: war, forced migration, forms of slavery (past and present), environmental disasters. The artist composes these different narratives in a cartography of chaos, following the concept of “chaosmosis” developed by Félix Guattari. According to the French psychoanalyst, a crisis of subjectivity generates a space of force and an intensification of temporalities and events that could give rise to either the revolutionary transformation of an era and the possibility of reinventing society, or end in total darkness and social and economic war. Therefore, Melitopoulos renders an account of the historical roots of these conflicts and the impossibility of coordination and collaboration between the abstract world of financial capital and the concrete reality of peoples and nature. At the same time, she suggests that the new world order engenders new subjectivities which, equally, make possible other forms of resistance and unprecedented changes.