Shadows on the Landscape

''Usually it’s summertime. Lena and I, having long rides with the motorcycle.
Without particular reason or final destination.
Free from all unnecessary thoughts or dialogues.
Free from all unnecessary presences.
Free from everything that has to be done.
It happens to me every summer, at the same place,
with the same person, with the same impatience to taste the moment.
I guess that’s when I am happy…'' 
Adamantia Nika

For her short films, Adamantia Nika says that they are pages of her visual diary, but they are much more than this. In a condensed and poetic way, she turns memories of days into their portraits, into portraits of particular moments, portraits of particular people, sometimes even self-portraits. Each day has its own smell, has its own colors, and has something that makes us either forget or remember it. In Nika’s visual memories, mundane activities are turned into points of reflection, inspiring us to question the criteria by which we remember our past as opposed to the moments lost in the dark hole of forgetfulness. Through her own visual language, Nika seems to tell a story similar to the words of an unknown wise man who once said that “life is not every day, life is made of the days that are unforgettable.”

In her self-portraits, Nika reveals a fragile inner world filled with questions that will remain unanswered, a personal space in search for the ways to open itself up and communicate its fears with the outside. In this inner universe, every day brings a new thought; every day brings up a new dilemma of how to act. These short meditations are precise and sincere and through selective use of visual images, Nika manages to transfer them to a higher, universal level without being pathetic, something usually hard to avoid when touching universal questions of human existence. Her voice is there to remind us that those questions do come from her but are something anyone of us can identify with. 

Nika’s inner world is deep and self-reflective, but burdened with the expectations coming from the world outside. She questions the necessity to be constantly active, to produce something new every day, and her quest seems to be for the actions able to bring deeper inner satisfaction. In other words, her visual diary seems to pose a question: what is the purpose of acting if it does not bring happiness? At this point, Nika turns her gaze from her inner world to this outside space full of demands and expectations and decides to make portraits of the world instead. In this simple redirection of her gaze, she seems relieved after encountering the others with whom she can relate to and share her dreams and fears. The outside world is not anymore one of hostility only, but a space of individual expansion and possibility of freedom as well.

One of the main questions in Nika’s visual diary is the one of how to define happiness through individual action. Starting with this universal human question, Nika goes further and brings in her identity as an artist, posing the question of what differentiates the activities of an artist from the ones of other human beings. Through her particular vision, Nika touches upon the importance of individual experience of the outside world in artistic creation. An artist reacts to different smells, to different colors, breaking with the usual perception of reality. Through her attempt to find the border between the human and the artist, Nika questions the possibility of an artist to work in a world that seems perfect, where everything seems under control and perfectly in tune, the world she seems to have encountered in her experience of living in the Netherlands. As opposed to this ordered system, Nika reveals her intention to demand the right for individual expression, something she finds in her practice of art. The clash or a particular dialectic encounter of the outside stimuli with her inner, protected world results in creativity, opening up the possibility to enrich both and offer a new insight into the role of artists in those universal human quests.

As her final destination, Nika brings us to the question of freedom and the relation this concept has with definitions of happiness. She finds this freedom in vast landscapes next to the sea, the ones she tries to conquest during her long rides on a motorbike with a dear friend. This portrait of the landscape becomes Nika’s portrait of freedom, of this necessity to lose and liberate the self. Her portrait of the landscape turns into a dream-like visual experience; her voice is silent for the first time and we just read her thoughts displayed on the screen. Nika’s memories of this perfect day are turned into blueprints for future actions, but can be seen as a burden for the future to repeat this feeling of happiness as well. Nevertheless, through her particular treatment of visual images, Nika shows us that this potentially utopian dream of freedom and happiness does not necessarily have to mean the escape from reality: in a short scene, we see their shadows (two friends and a motorbike) inscribed into this landscape, temporarily using it as a screen onto which to project ourselves. As it seems, through Nika’s poetic vision of human nature, we are all just shadows on the landscape and the responsibility for the actions in this world full of possibilities is still an individual task.

Published in the artist's publication, Dutch Art Institute, Enschede, 2007