talmon biran’s installation in paxos, greece
Talmon Biran’s ‘Hang On’ is a complex, yet beautifully silent installation held within the historically significant ruins of Kampos tis Koris, an old house that now stands roofless and stripped of its interior fittings. Its empty shell is a time capsule recounting the history of the island as well as narrating its present. A memoir of family history, long time ownerships, real estate investments, modern materials, machinery, and traditional construction methods and skills which are losing their place to progress.
Created for the 2022 Paxos Biennale on the Greek Island, the concept and design details of ‘Hang On’ are inspired by the traditional construction techniques and rituals of Paxos. The Israeli artist and architect duo, Roy Talmon and Noa Biran, use only locally found materials for their installation, which lies on the boundary between art and architecture, and wonders on the tension between the two conflicting forces of preservation and progress. Examining the relations between space, human action, and time, the installation explores states of balance, materializing as a weaving network of ropes that hang off the crumbling stone structure to suspend wooden beams in the air.
‘Hang On’ was created for the 2022 Paxos Biennale
all photographs by Roy Talmon unless stated otherwise
‘hang on’: an exploration of balance and preservation
The construction process of the installation itself employed actions and techniques of archeological excavations, site surveys and architectural preservations, including site clearing, reconstruction and repairs, piling, sorting, and marking objects and building parts found on site. Creating of a series of installations within the space of the ruins, Talmon Biran makes use of rope and the remains of the original structure found on site such as stones, wooden beams and old furniture. The installation ‘Hang On’ explores states of balance between opposing forces: lifted elements and weights, movement vs. stability, and in and out. Positioning these forces in dichotomy demonstrates their definition in relation to the other and raises a question on the possibility of equilibrium: What will stand and what will fall? What should remain and what should change? Which of the opposing forces will prevail?
Within the ruins of Kampos tis Koris, is a series of intersecting ropes and floating timber beams, balanced in stillness. The Israeli duo tied old wooden beams with ropes to heavy stones found on the site on either end. The stones are hung on the external facades, acting as weights to balance the wooden beams in the air amid the interior space. Additional stones are connected to large stones on the ground, suggesting an imaginary grid of columns or foundations, while another pile of stones can be found gathered together in a straight line, resembling archaeological mounds or ancient rituals for burial or worship.
locally found old wooden beams are tied with ropes to heavy stones on either end
a network of suspended ropes, stones and wooden beams
A recessed niche within the inner wall holds a pile of stones, each of which is tied with a rope, recalling preserved food or stock lying on a pantry shelf. Each individual stone is numbered in red, marked with the signature of the family who owns the property. This is a common means of declaring possession of buildings in Paxos, raising the questions: ‘Is ownership an inventory? Is it transferrable?’
Elsewhere in the installation, a series of wooden frames, dry branches and rusty work tools found on the site are arranged to lean in line along the wall. Their difference of shapes, height and textures, and the fragile composition they create together stand in contrast to the completely straight red line which is marked along them, joining them. The line acts as a datum level, often used in construction as a reference line for all elements of the building. ‘A line in space and time. Its existence depends on the ability of the elements to maintain standing’, notes Talmon Biran.
Further, a weathering frame of a blue-painted chair is filled with stones in a traditional dry stone wall construction method, a traditional technique typically seen in Paxos. The stones are held together without the use of mortar and simply by their own weight, through careful selection and positioning of the stones to fit together in shape and heaviness. The chair which is typically characterized with mobility and lightness, is here fixed, heavy and rooted in the ground.
a pile of stones is gathered in a straight line, resembling archaeological mounds or ancient rituals for burial or worship