Art collectives, touring exhibitions and pop-ups are thriving in the tough economic climate
- guardian.co.uk, Friday 27 July 2012
Despite the economic crisis in Greece – or perhaps because of it – the art scene in Athens is flourishing. The city is seeing a turn towards touring exhibitions and ephemeral performances, events and discussions more suited to the tough economic climate than commercially driven work catering to rich buyers.
Today, Athens boasts more than 50 non-profit, non-hierarchical and self-organised art collectives. Many of the groups occupy spaces temporarily, collaborating with other institutions and groups.
The Nomadic Architecture Network recently organised Il Camino Commune, a mapping project using songs, poems and writing as an alternative cartography to plot the city.
Reconstruction Community, a collective of architects, artists and theorists, also supports ongoing research and projects related to the metropolis.
One innovative work produced by the group is a sound-map of Athens, which is available online along with essays and project outlines commissioned by the group.
Artists are taking the visible signs of economic downturn and appropriating them for creative ends, with empty shops often becoming home to pop-up exhibitions.
Other unusual spaces have been used as exhibition venues too: in spring, the gallery Camp (Contemporary Art Meeting Point) produced Back to Athens, a festival in the city centre where artwork was installed within shops, offices and restaurants.
Earlier in the year, Kappatos gallery arranged a three-week event showcasing the work of emerging artists across 30 rooms in a hotel in the Kolonaki district.
As well as exhibiting works such as Tout va Bien, Camp also schedules events that encourage further networking and sharing ideas.
Last month it organised Systems, which invited all the independent art groups in the city to come together and debate their viability at a time of crisis.
There has also been a notable influx of international artists, further helping regenerate the scene.
Last month, students at Athens and Madrid schools of art organised an exhibition called Thermopolis. One student was mummified in red and white tape on a street corner near Syntagma Square, while “welcome home” mats were laid across the pavements nearby.
In April, the Greek artist Augustus Veinoglou, who lives and works in Edinburgh, set up Snehta, an international residency programme for young British artists.
Selected artists are invited to spend up to three months in the Greek capital, where they are asked to create pieces in response to the city and exhibit them in Kypseli, the suburb where the scheme is based.
- Arts create economic boost for Athens, study says (onlineathens.com)
- Athens in spotlight as film pros tour town (onlineathens.com)
- The Athens Underground (mypornoproject.com)
- Social fallout inspires an art wave on Greece’s streets (dawn.com)