Finite-State Family Structures


The work ‘‘Finite-State Family Structures’’ by Maria Varela takes the popular family house
as its starting point. Through architectural research and personal data, she creates a new
narrative in the absence of the human element. Influenced by the HYDROEXPRESS
space, the artist presents a house-like construction that extends over three levels, as a
reference to the three-story building that in Greece traditionally houses the extended
family. Inside she places the “intermediate space”, the space between the body of the
occupant in the house and its walls, as depicted in architectural plans of the early 20th
century which aim at finding the minimum possible functional space in working class
houses. The empty space takes shape to imply the human scale while commenting on the
physical – and mental – adaptability of the inhabitant to environments structured by mass
design, and the impossibility of implementing the opposite process.
The transparency of the house makes it an eye-catching interior that evokes the family
vitrine, a piece of furniture that gives an elaborate picture of the social class of the family –
or the one to which it would like to belong – and is addressed to the visitors. Like the
showcase is addressed to a “third” party, the whole house is transformed from a closed
circuit into a public condition through inviting non-habitants inside. From her grandmother’s
housekeeping book ‘‘Practical Greek Cooking’’ which includes not only recipes but also
good behavior guidelines for housewives, Maria Varela later recognized the experiential
application of its content in her family memories. She chooses to focus on the habits that
time discards over the passing of generations. A series of mind-based recipes becomes
the occasion for a dish made by the artist to be offered during the opening, addressing the
audience as guests, and reversing the process of offering into something ominous.
By referring to the home literally, as a space, and metaphorically, as a series of protocols
and rules, Maria Varela focuses on what is left remaining and what stays on the sidelines.
The empty space around the body that is not shaped and the recipes that will not continue
to be made draw the viewer’s attention to the “invisible”, with the artist’s house
construction acting as an abstract miniature of the symptoms of the Greek family. Finally,
the dialogue Maria Varela and the artist and founder of the space Marina Papadaki about
their family stories becomes a structural way to approach the work that also influences its
design: the inclusion in the installation of the latter’s crystal glasses that are part of her
dowry and an item displayed in her grandmother’s family vitrine.

Eva Vaslamatzi

  • exhibition

    The Prefix “co” Hydroexpress Project Part II

  • curator

    Eva Vaslamatzi

  • organisers

    Hydroexpress Project

  • venue

    Hydroexpress Project

  • year


  • acknowledgements

    Marina Papadaki, Papadaki family, Thanos Eleftherakos