Leave what you loved once

Leave what you loved once
Alexandra Masmanidi
A participatory project of inviting people to offer objects that become, through a glass installation, artworks “floating” in the Eleusinian backdrop.

Team members
Field of work
Architecture, Design, Ecology, Visual Art, Multimedia
Project category
Raising awareness
Project submitted

I am a Greek-Italian visual artist, designer and architect based in Athens. I studied architecture at Sapienza University in Rome and I hold postgraduate degrees in design from the Politecnico di Milano and in art and architecture from the Instead Parapoesis Programme (University of Thessaly), where I have also worked as a tutor.
My practice merges design, architecture and art, with an interest in spatial topics and cultural objects, specifically of domestic objects and “subjects" along with theirs and nature's recurrent patterns and motifs. My work is site specific, project based and particularly influenced by the context, by social and environmental issues, questioning the dominant narratives and the boundaries between natural and artificial, public and private, functional and decorative. The medium is variable (interior, furniture and exhibition design, photography, sound, film, digital image, painting, installations and text) and incorporates found materials and autobiographical elements.
I have participated in various projects, exhibitions and festivals such as at 2023 Elevsis European Capital of Culture, State of Concept gallery, Circuits and Currents, 15th Venice Architecture Biennale, Documenta 14 Kunsthochschule workshop show, Marpissa festival, Agricultural University of Athens, Palais de la Porte Dorée, One Minute Space, Kyan Athens, Athens Design Forum, Syros International Film Festival, 3137 Artist Run Space, Callirrhoë, Ifac Athens, PADA gallery, Kasteev State Art Museum, Union de la Jeunesse Internationale, Art in Elafonisos and others.
I have collaborated, among others, with the initiatives Sarcha, Kassandras, Diplomates, Leefwerk and Athens Design Forum and Aristide Antonas, Iris Touliatou, Mary Zygouri and Rainer Oldendorf for various shows and projects. I have participated in workshops, residencies, publications, seminars and talks in Greece and abroad and I have been awarded the Stavros Niarchos Artworks Award.

“Leave What You Loved Once” is a participatory project within 2023 Eleusis European Capital of Culture. It invites the public to contribute personal objects in a glass installation or “vessel”, placed in the public space, which I have designed and produced with a producer and glass and metal artisans. The transparent cell box units function as a display incorporating the backdrop of Eleusis, specifically the archeological site, allowing the objects and the landscape to become the artwork themselves.
Asking locals and visitors to let go of things and to participate in a symbolic collective action, has multilayered meanings, recurrent in my practice. It captures objects while transitioning from their functional, individually-owned indoor existence to the public domain, sparing them from becoming trash. A growing collection of personal objects, a monument hosting the leftovers of society, a symbol of coexistence across divergent entities, a mélange of kilometer-zero objects and ones coming from afar.
The project aspires to critically touch upon topics such as property, production, consumerism, changing Mediterranean landscapes, historical and contemporary remains, personal and collective memory and space, current environmental and social issues and our everyday ways of living. A call for collaboration and inclusivity, prompting participants and viewers, through the objects that they leave behind, to reexamine the relationship with the material world and contemplate potential new narratives.
The project, after its initiation, intentionally evolves autonomously creating unexpected outcomes and experiences in three layers: my one to one interaction with the public with deep intimate confessional moments and discussions, a digital online archive with the stories of the released objects and the physical object-installation itself, slowly transforming by the sun and the weather conditions. I am willing to further expand the tryptic even after the ending of the festival.