After touring public spaces and venues in Basel, Cleveland, and Seville, Jenny Marketou’s site-specific multimedia installation Red Eyed Sky Walkers, 2007–, has found temporary residence in her birthplace. Part of Athens’s National Museum of Contemporary Art 2010 commissions program and curated by Daphne Vitali, this fourth adaptation follows the exact same formula as the previous versions, giving the work its two-part structure: Outside the building, ninety-nine red weather balloons equipped with wireless spy cameras parade across the peristyle, capturing images, while indoors a rather noisy large projection on a split screen fuses low-res videos of riots with those of the real-time surveillance images of the exterior.
Cleverly inventive in its transposition of the urban landscape to the ferocious mediascape, Marketou’s work incorporates an element of vintage violence. Although the liveliness of the Walkers lies in the fine tuning between playfulness, cruelty, and social commentary, as well as in evocative references to Nena’s famous 1984 pop song, Monty Python’s The Flying Circus (1969–74), and Mike Figgis’s Timecode (2000), it is the audience’s enthusiastic reaction that makes the difference. Judging from the signs that adorn the peristyle’s walls (“We kindly ask you not to take away and mistreat the balloons. It is a work of art”), it is highly unlikely that the balloons will survive until the show closes. Ironically, this unorthodox form of engagement contributes to the artist’s objectives, challenging any preconceived expectations and shifting the attention to the behavioral variety a public artwork must always take into consideration.