The Grave, 2023 - Autostrada Biennale

The Grave, 2023

Artist: Kostas Bassanos

Venue: Riverbank

Kostas Bassanos’s site-specific installation is based on Walter Benjamin’s dictum: “There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.” The line, which appears in his 1940 essay “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” is engraved in both Catalan and German on a memorial stone in Portbou, Spain, where, only months after writing the text, in September 1940, he committed suicide while fleeing the Gestapo. Benjamin argued that history is not a linear evolution of events toward a better future but rather a complex and contradictory process in which progress and barbarism are intimately intertwined. For this new commission, Bassanos covers Bistrica’s riverbed with Benjamin’s words. Installed between the two main bridges of Prizren, his work incorporates the dual nature of rivers as elements that both connect and divide. The letters are made of standard Euro-pallet wood painted with typographic ink. The material and color choices associated with the transportation of goods, on the one hand, and the dissemination of text, on the other, aim to emphasize language’s ability to function as a signifier of both economic and cultural dominance. By reproducing the text in the languages used on the philosopher’s memorial stone, Bassanos alludes to debates about the value of translation in Kosovo’s multilingual society.

Kostas Bassanos (1961) was born in Kamena Vourla and lives and works in Athens.

Text by Orestis Mavroudis

Photo credits Tuğhan Anıt

Other Exhibitions

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive news, cool free stuff updates and new released products (no spam!)