theresa nanigian
what is..., 2006


Mixed media, dimensions vary


what is… is a mixed media body of work, which contemplates a question posed by Socrates 2,500 years ago - What is goodness?  The most prominent work (a 42 metre wall drawing titled How to illuminate the soul) brings the viewer both figuratively and literally on Nanigian’s journey to seek the answer to this timeless question – one that has as much relevance today as when it was first queried by the philosopher in the town square of ancient Athens.  Part of the journey entailed embarking on discussions with a wide variety of groups ranging from county council porters and mothers of young children to junior-certificate students and actors in a Greek play.

what is also begs another question: Is it ridiculous to embark on a rigorous analytical exercise to determine how to lead a better life?  Or is it necessary and vital to comprehensively address one of life’s most important questions – a question which is neglected behind more “urgent” decisions such as, what to buy in the shops for dinner tonight or where to go on summer holidays.  As such, the works in what is… also expose this consternation between the desire to give the important things in life their fair due and the concern for over analysis, which is often at the core of Nanigian’s work.


Installation photography by Paola Bernardelli

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