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Alexandra Papademetriou received                             's biography

Brief basics: I’m female, 26 years old, a lesbian, and I come from Athens. I used to be a painter,
and I suppose I still am at heart, but since moving to Sweden two years ago I’ve been sort of
forced gently pushed into more text- and research-based work. I used to have to do lots of
academic drawing and painting as a student so, having grown sick of it, my own painting is rough
around the edges and kind of grotesque. I generally try to be funny as a person and in my art,
although my humor is often black and/or somewhat dry. I make art as a way to work through stuff
that makes me angry at the world.
Something I’ve been thinking a lot about these past few years is my nationality and my
relationship with it. I was born and raised in Athens to a Greek father and an English mother. My
father was usually away for work, and his side of the family lived in a different part of the country,
so growing up it was just me and my mother, speaking a sort of Greeklish. It wasn’t until I started
school that I realized I didn’t speak or act like the other kids. As you might imagine I got bullied a
lot, both by the other children and by some teachers. At the time, i.e. the late 90s/early 00s, the
go-to racist insult in Greece was to call someone “Albanian”; as many Albanian migrants had
recently moved in and were of course considered to be “lesser” than the “noble” and “ancient”
Greek “race”. I remember having that word flung at me and not understanding why I should be
insulted by it. In any case, the message was very clear: you are not one of us, you do not belong
here. So, over the years I completely rejected greek culture, and sort of idealized England and
northern/western Europe generally like this place where I did belong and would someday “return”
to. It was only as an adult, when I finally got to leave Greece for the first time that I realized: Holy
shit I’m so greek. My accent is greek, my tastes are greek, my thinking is greek, and I will always
be a foreigner here. I know this is pretty obvious, right, that someone growing up in two different
cultures would feel like they belong to neither, but it was my new identification with Greekness
specifically that surprised me. I also caught myself “playing” the greek, playing with stereotypes;
mostly to be funny/entertaining but also to communicate with others (to explain something for
It was this sudden change of perception that shifted my artistic focus from my previous subject of
queerness to the subject of nationality and the way it’s constructed: to how an “us” and “them” is
created; to the countless seen and unseen mechanisms that mold people into the right shape to
better serve their nation; to the massive web of internal contradictions inherent within any national
identity; to how arbitrary all these things are, and yet affect us so deeply, to the point where we
might perpetuate nationalist behaviors even though we consciously know they are absurd.
Underlying all this is the tension between what is considered to be the West, which is the default,
or even the ideal, and what is delegated to its periphery, i.e. everyone else on the planet – a
periphery in which identity is always filtered through the Western lens and is perpetually engaged
in translating itself into the Anglophonic context to be understood.


Around the table, I - VI


Acrylic on canvas Dimensions variable



This work was made by Alexandra Papademetriou Based on Donya H.Aalipour’s Biography

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