The Benaki Museum shows an exhibition of the Danish photographer Pernille Koldbech Fich, entitled “Preparing for the Beach”. The show is organized in collaboration with the Danish Institute at Athens.
The exhibition “Preparing for the Beach” reflects on time, age and vanity; intertwining fading memories of family and youth with accounts from their everyday life in Athens, Greece.
Preparing for the Beach is a photographic peek into a world inhabited by 25 female pensioners who each attend a different Day Care Centre for Senior Citizens (ΚΑΠΗ) or Friendship Clubs. These clubs are scattered across the city and offer senior citizen gymnastics and self-defence classes taught by retired male top athletes.
Preparing for the Beach merges memories, fiction and documentary into a Memento Mori about life’s volatility; about time going by, while physical actions repeat themselves with the desire to maintain a healthy body and vibrant memories in order to keep on going.
The 67 photographic images are accompanied by short quotes and audio recordings from the daily scenes at the Centres. In them, the women are in a dialogue with the instructors and the artist’s young interpreter. Together, they reflect on the past and present within a one-year cycle.
The photographs are strangely subtle and yet insisting. They yield narratives that are both true and imaginary. Throughout the encounters with the women depicted, one is forced to reflect on one’s own life and mortality:
In “Preparing for the Beach” the seemingly simple things and matter-of-fact events plunge into unknown depths. Equally, the complexities of knowing and understanding age and lived life become strangely familiar.
The meeting with Pernille Koldbech Fichs’ new works leaves the viewer a little puzzled, yet much wiser on what it means to be human.