© Dimitrios G. Antonitsis

Dimitrios-Georges Antonitsis ' project My Fair (ma)Lady, which he began in the spring of 1995, involves the exploration of sexual identities within the gray zone of female impersonation, transvestism, and that ultimate transgression, transsexuali- ty. The spectacle of a man playing the role of a woman is as old as theatre itself and exists not only in "high art" but in the ritual and pageantry of virtually every culture. it is only in more contemporary times that this art has been relegated to marginality, to "Drag." The allure of this performance is that magical moment of transcendence dur- ing which the audience forgets (or denies?) the truth in order to be seduced by the illusion.

Antonitsis' forays into this world have initiated him into the backstage rites and mysteries, as well as the psychology and personality of the performers, whose "ontogeny" he has photographed. His fascination lies not with the stage perfor- mance per se (the result), but more with the process during which the soul metamor- phoses along with the application of makeup - artifice gradually working its spell from the outside in. This transformation extends even to paraphernalia and body parts, which the performers endow with personae, with names, thereby sublimating them.

Spirituality and the spirit world have long intrigued Antonitsis, and are central to his imagery. His previous works notably A Dictionary of Fallen Angels, carry direct references to celestial or incorporeal presences. By enclosing his large-scale Cibachrome prints of these (wo)men inside plexiglass boxes, he converts the images into icons, into devotional objects. The constructions become altarpieces with the arrangement of the characters' personal artifacts (shoes, false eyelashes, jewelry, breast implants, wigs, etc,) before their images, like attributes or votive offer- ings to a different Goddess or Madonna.

That these photographs are in color, indeed hypernatural color in some cases, appears as a striking departure from Antonitsis' previous work, an aspect in fact that the artist himself emphasizes. Upon closer examination, however, one real- izes that the same sensibility prevails. There is his ongoing fascination with texture, but even more, his ongoing fascination with ambiguity (both of the sexes and spirits surrounding us), with the smoky realms between the physical and the metaphysical, the real and the fantastic, the sacred and the profane.

Andrea Gilbert
Athens, March 1996

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