Inspired by her Greek mother’s work in a local footwear factory, artist and community worker Sonia Zymantas came up with the idea of a multi-layered art installation to explore the history of similar industrial spaces located in the northern suburbs.
Sonia, who has been working on themes of local identity, narratives and cultural heritage for over 15 years, is showcasing her latest project at this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival.
The artist aims to depict the consequences of the constantly evolving scenery on the Greek migrant population, as the local factories which employed them are closing down to turn into modern apartment blocks in newly gentrified areas.
“They have also become a ‘second home’ or ‘third space’ for many of the established migrants in the area that have been living there for more than 50 years,” Sonia tells Neos Kosmos.
“Ironically, there is little official documentation of these businesses but the impacts and mapping are preserved through histories told by the original artisans.”
Using interviews, video, photography, sound, illustration and props, Second Home provides a multi-layered personal exploration of how the sites have assimilated with their environment, creating a cultural identity for the workers.
The project provides audiences an experience of being in an intimate space, yet displaced, somewhere between a factory and a living room, blurring the boundaries between home and second home – or ‘heterotopias’ – a third space of otherness.
“It reflects a real emotion of loss and a new era for many migrant Greeks,” said Sonia stressing that this project challenges how migrants are often represented.
“I’m not telling a story depicting our lives as statistics or as nostalgic of another time and place but by offering a cultural and personal connection and dislocation in a local urban environmental setting.”
*The exhibition at the Northcote Town Hall Forecourt will be open from Friday 2 October to Monday 5 October 2015. For more information head to www.facebook.com/secondhomeheterotopias or www.soniazymantas.wix.com/sonia-zymantas-art