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Farewell to thee


In 'Farewell to thee', Balaskas is inspired by the US-North Korea crisis and, more specifically, by a ballistic missile alert that was issued in the State of Hawaii on 13 January 2018. The threat was communicated to Hawaiians through mobile phone messages, and it necessitated taking immediate shelter in order to try to survive the imminent nuclear catastrophe. Thirty-eight minutes later, another notification on their phones and on electronic sign boards informed Hawaiians that the initial message that they had received was a false alarm. Unsurprisingly, however, the alert had already caused widespread panic, with people sharing their fear and confusion on social media. Soon after, the state's authorities announced that the person responsible for the turmoil was an employee who had "pushed the wrong button." Ironically, this was an announcement that evoked a statement made just a few days earlier by President Trump regarding the size and force of his "nuclear button" – a war of words conducted by the then American President almost exclusively on social media (X, formerly Twitter). Balaskas adopts this incident as a point of departure to reflect on the relationship between new media, spectacle, and contemporary politics. Combining a variety of visual references, Balaskas highlights through the installation the absurdity of today's world, in which the prospect of nuclear war has emphatically returned to the everyday lives of millions of people. The installation revolves around 10 images of actual nuclear bomb tests printed on the cases of iPhone 8 Plus – the model used by President Trump at the time of the incident. In addition, 2 LED sign panels feature the mobile phone alert messages sent across the State of Hawaii on 13 January 2018, while a bamboo curtain covers the entrance of the installation, depicting a sunset resembling the image of a nuclear blast. Finally, the space of the installation is dominated by a 38-minute soundtrack which is the slowed-down version of the song "Aloha 'Oe" ("Farewell to thee") – the most famous Hawaiian song, and a global cultural symbol of leisure. 'Farewell to thee' constitutes a poignant study of a contradictory world, in which information and scientific knowledge are more widely available than ever, yet old, "irrational" threats grow stronger.

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