gratuitous image
31 May 1996

Stelios Arkadiou

I have always trusted Russell Hart's admonishment "Beware of artists with only one name." The most recent empirical evidence of what appears to be a truism was an exhibition at a local gallery by an embarrassingly inarticulate woman who insisted she be addressed only as "Orlan."

I was asked to become involved with a performance at the same venue by "Stelarc." I agreed, albeit reluctantly. (I found the documentation of Stelios Arkadiou's previous work painfully thick going.) When I met the artist, though, I was pleasantly surprised. He impressed me as a good old Australian hippy surfer (or perhaps is was just his use of the phrase "good on ya mate" that left that feeling). He seemed much more of a Stelios than a Stelarc, but if he says he's Stelarc who I am to say he isn't?

He was completely serious about his work, though. He politely but firmly refused to take a few shortcuts or cheat a bit on the documentation. I am definitely the lazier artist, albeit by design.

When not working, though, he went back to his amiable artist schtick. He often said (jokingly? seriously?) that he wanted "two women and a bottle of whiskey." I got the impression this was his standard request. He said when he asked that of the organizer of a performance in Eastern Europe, the arts apparatchik mulled it over and, after a frowning pause, said "the women are no problem, but you know, whiskey is very expensive here."

After his performance, I offered Stelarc some whiskey from the bottom of a bottle my colleagues and I had been working with all afternoon.

"Thanks, David, but I don't drink."

"But what about the two women and a bottle of whiskey you wanted?"

"The whiskey is for the women!"

Good on ya, mate. (Although one should beware of artists with only one name, it's even more probable that there's little if any correlation between artists' personalities and their work.)

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©1996 David Glenn Rinehart