Iris Touliatou: Matter Enclosed in Heavy Brackets

Employing references from a wide range of historical sources such as cinema, modernist architecture, and theater, Iris Touliatou’s artistic practice takes the form of the visual essay. Built from a mysterious yet symbolic vocabulary, these essays evoke allusive or ambiguous narratives, adding layers of interpretation to the complex and contradictory set of practices that we refer to as Modernism.

Iris Touliatou, recipient of the Future Of Europe art prize, has been invited to unfold a new series of narratives for her solo exhibition at the GfZK. The project, entitled Matter enclosed in heavy brackets, utilizes the performative architecture of the museum itself, drawing upon techniques of stage direction to blur boundaries between onstage and offstage, audience and actors, fiction and reality.

Echoing back to specific moments in the history of political theater, the exhibition draws parallels between today’s political climate and that of the Great Depression era. Touliatou effectively breaks the fourth wall to create a “theater of operations” that resides not in one particular time but in a moment of suspension between past, present, and future. The title of the show itself implies a suspension in space, an appended footnote or grammatical demarcation—denoting that which has vanished, or perhaps, that which has never occurred. This minimal yet precise interplay between presence and absence (site and non-site), which can be found throughout the exhibition and in Touliatou’s work as a whole, creates complex allegories that hold particular resonance for today.


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