Pfui – Pish, Pshaw / Prr, Saskia Olde Wolbers, 2017 two channel video HD 20 min, PCAI
This work deals with the urgent business of toxic waste management and gives voice to Mr Theodosis Alifrangis, the longest-serving worker of a Greek oil spill response company.
The fictional script, loosely based on Alifrangis’ anekdotes, is from an oil spill responder’s point of view and reveals his superstitious reason for filming; "Xematiasma", the Greek oil and water divination, where his camera wards off the evil eye whilst tending to major emergencies on a daily basis.
He expands into further musings around matter and spirit, ancient rituals for cleansing the sea, his love for shipwrecks, recollections of heroic acts against the mundane everyday reality of cleaning heavy oils from the sea’s surface, until narrative time seemingly starts reversing, playing with ideas of toxic waste and permanence.
The two screen work features an eclectic sample of Alifrangis’ prolific VHS archive, unofficially filmed over 40 years on his camcorder, alongside imagery created in Olde Wolbers’ studio, where model sets of cruise ship interiors, ferromagnetic mussels and molecular structures are covered in iridescently coloured dripping oils and filmed in tanks.
It also features sonar imaging attempts around the unsalvageable Sea Diamond, a cruise ship in Santorini that has commanded Alifrangis’ daily care for the last 10 years, filmed by Olde Wolbers in collaboration with Alifrangis
Sonar is a technology used in medicine and marine archaeology and is here innovatively used in an art context to visualise pollution. The title derives from a DH Lawrence letter in which the author abandoned language to express an onomatopoeic anger.
The work was commissioned by Polyeco’s Contemporary Art Initiative (PCAI) which raises environmental awareness through an art program curated by Nadia Agyropoulou.
It was co-commissioned by Invisible Dust who work with leading artists and scientists, to produce works of contemporary art exploring climate change and the environment. The work was shown installed at the survey exhibitions Paratoxic Paradoxes, Benaki Museum Athens and Offshore, Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, 2017.
Commissioning curator: Nadja Argyropoulou
Co-producer: Alice Sharp/Invisable Dust
Executive Producer: Athanasios Polychronopoulos, PCAI
Producer: Loraini Alimantiri, PCAI
Director of Photography Archive: Theodosis Alifrangis
Editor: David Panos
Music: Daniel Pemberton
Sound: Tom Sedgwick
Voice over: George Chalkias
Additional voices: Xenia Bolomiti, Giullia Innocenti
Voice over Director: Giullia Innocenti
Voice over recording; Theo Prodromidis / Costas Fylaktidis / Tom sedgwick
Script editor: Sarah Ardizzone
Chemical advisor: Ilias Avramikos
Production assistants: Rachel Pimm, Rowan Wigley, Marianne Burlew, Demosthenes Epaminondas
Sonar Postproduction: Dominik Binegger, Louise Naunton Morgan
Grading: Lajos Pataki
Sonar Location: Theodosis Alifrangis, Islami Tzezim
Greek subtitles: Fotini Pipi
Translations: Lili Alimantiri, Ellie Antoniou
Further funding by The Elephant Trust, Goldsmiths University, Breathing Space Award Space Studios London.