Bik Van der Pol
· index · notes · books
The former military camp Kodra is occupying a central location in the city of Kalamaria (Thessaloniki, Greece), a residential municipality primarily made up of refugees who came to Greece following Asia Minor's destruction in 1922 and the Exchange of Populations after the Lausanne Treaty in 1923. The decaying barracks date back to the beginning of the 19th century, when Kodra was the largest military camp in the Balkans. Later on, Kodra became a refugee settlement (c. 1915) and until recently, served as a Greek military camp. Today, the inhabitants of Kalamaria use the abandoned field as a park even though a small portion of the site is still occupied by NATO forces. Kodra also hosts numerous cultural events such as concerts and art exhibitions, which includes the contemporary art festival Action Field Kodra.

Presented within the framework of the 8th edition of this festival, Letters from a Front is a billboard project conceived to bridge the gap between Kodra and Kalamaria. Specifically built for the project on the highest point of the abandoned military base,
the billboard frame faces the municipality so that its content occupies the local community's public sphere while drawing upon the particular history and politics of the site.

In response to this project, Bik van der Pol have created Billboard based on an excerpt drawn from T.S. Elliott's The Wasteland (1922). By introducing a reference to this poem within the context of Kodra, the piece literalizes the camp's wasted state by proxy while addressing an unanswered plea to the eternally mute landscape. While the poem infers the ruins of post-war Europe, it here echoes the unconditional destruction Asia Minor refugees faced before coming to Kalamaria in the early 1920s, coinciding with the poem's first publication.

(excerpt from the essay by Stephanie Bertrand)