Nadja Argyropoulou for Polyeco Contemporary Art Initiative
Saskia Olde Wolbers
Pfui — Pish, Pshaw / Prr
Two-channel HD video, 2O’
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
Audiovisual installation design: Sam Collins
Greek subtitles: Fotini Pipi
Translations: Lili Alimantiri, Ellie Antoniou
Work commissioned by Nadja Argyropoulou for Polyeco Contemporary Art Initiative and co-produced by Invisible Dust (Alice Sharp).
Further funding by The Elephant Trust, Goldsmiths University, Breathing Space Award Space Studios London.
Saskia Olde Wolbers is represented by Maureen Paley London and Stigter van Doesburg Amsterdam.
Pfui – Pish, Pshaw / Prr, 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.
Nadja Argyropoulou, March 2017