Spazio PPP: Hi Irini, it was very nice to meet you in London! We didn’t have time enough to talk about, so, would you briefly illustrate the nature of your job and research?

Irini Bachlitzanaki: I think of my work as more closely related to sculpture but I like to move between different forms of production, using materials and techniques that are associated with different media and / or disciplines, ranging from printmaking to textiles and embroidery but also for example traditional craft processes or the making of furniture.
For many years now my studio practice and accompanying research has revolved around material culture—it’s very much about objects and how they exist in the world and how we exist alongside them. Design and craft are constant references. 
I am fascinated by the ability of inanimate objects to either produce or illustrate certain connections, relations and dynamics in ways that are not immediately obvious—I often think of the objects that I make as some sort of stage props—This in turn can lead to looking at things and the world around us a bit differently, considering certain aspects of it we otherwise wouldn’t. 
Against this more general backdrop I often work in bodies or more loosely related groups of work that address a more specific idea I am interested in at a given time. Recently, many of the works that I make seem to revolve around ideas of care, comfort, relief, coping techniques and mechanisms. 

SPPP: How do you think life in the United Kingdom has influenced your professional growth? (during the conversation we had, we agreed about the struggles of developing an art career in countries such as Greece and Italy…)

IB: Living here has played a big part: Although when I first started having a proper practice I had relocated back to Greece for a while my only experience of how to be an artist so to speak came from studying at university and art school in the U.K. so that definitely influenced how I went about things and probably still does. I’ve had work opportunities here that I wouldn’t have had elsewhere, but more importantly living in London I’ve always felt a bit more comfortable in being able to support my practice and all that sustaining it entails as opposed to being based in Athens even with the cost of living having skyrocketed. I’m not sure whether its the more established institutional framework, the market, the resulting culture or a combination of these and other factors but it all leads to a broader acknowledgment that what we do is real work rather than a hobby. A lot stems from this.

SPPP: In your opinion, what are the most interesting artistic realities in London at the moment? 

IB: I don’t think that’s particularly of the moment, if at all, but for me one of the most interesting aspects is the sheer amount of work on display in places very different to each other, from big museums and collections and public galleries to private foundations and from non-for-profit spaces to commercial spaces and also student degree shows - there’s always so much to see. I never get to see quite as much as I would have liked to but I’m still happy it’s out there— and that’s on top of everything else going on in around the city. London seems and is vast but at the same time very navigable in comparison to places much smaller. So a lot of what’s going on is pretty accessible. What’s also interesting and somewhat related is the balance between all those artists who are leaving London as it’s progressively becoming more unaffordable and ridiculous in many ways—housing is insane—and those who stay and come back because in many ways it is pretty unique when you are an artist and offers ways to make it work that don’t exist elsewhere. It’s very tricky, but interesting. 

SPPP: Do you have projects that you would like to realize/that you have not yet implemented/or that you are already working on, that you would like to share and talk about?

IB: I’m about to open a solo show in London. I’m in the final weeks of prep so I’m working full steam towards this at the moment! It’s titled The Consolation of Imaginary Things and it opens on the 31st of May at IONE & MANN gallery. 
In June I’m in Tuscany for a month on residency at Villa Lena organised by The Residency and CURA Art which I’m also very excited about. I would like to use my time there to think a bit more about relief sculpture and possible connections to my work. 
I have also been working on an idea for a show in collaboration with artist Myrto Xanthopoulou to take place in Athens, hopefully sometime next year. We have developed an idea sparked by the many ways our works—and lives— intersect and have been working on it on and off for a while now so I’m really looking forward to see it materialising. In the work that we ‘ve done so far I have absolutely loved working with someone else as my work is pretty solitary otherwise. 

SPPP: The whole world is now in a phase of violent and rapid transformation. How do you think the cultural world is responding to these changes? Which poetic act, in your opinion, could create a new balance? 

IB: I don’t think there’s a balance to be struck in the face of people being forced to flee their homes, being bombed to death. An artist whose work I love opened a show in Athens recently and although I haven’t been able to see it yet its title has remained with me since I first read the press release and is the first thing that came to mind when reading the question: "WE NEED TO DO MORE…” 

The Consolation of Imaginary Things is on at IONE & MANN Gallery, London from the 31st of May to the 13th of July

The Residency
Myrto Xanthopoulou
'WE NEED TO DO MORE: magical thinking' is the title of a show by artist Paky Vlassopoulou at Callirrhoe, Athens.  

Magical Thinking (Bag), 2024
Painted MDF
62 x 52 x 1,5 cm
Copyright the Artist, Courtesy of IONE & MANN, London