Here are some images and a pdf of the accompanying booklet for the exhibition "Lead the Way" that was running between the 9th May – 1st June, 2019, at Fokia Nou Art Space in Athens.
Please see previous blog post for more information.
Please find below the booklet accompanying the exhibition:
“Lead the Way,” a solo exhibition of drawings and paintings by Sebastian Boulter at FokiaNou Art Space
Opening: Thursday, 9 May 2019, 19.00
Duration: 9 May – 1 June, 2019. Opening hours: Thursday to Saturday 17.00 - 20.00
FokiaNou Art Space, Fokianou 24, 7th floor, Pagrati, Athens. Metro: Evangelismos
Let us turn aside here and go along the Ilisos; then we can sit down quietly wherever we please.
I am fortunate, it seems, in being barefoot; you are so always. It is easiest then for us to go along the brook
with our feet in the water, and it is not unpleasant, especially at this time of the year and the day.
Lead on then, and look out for a good place where we may sit.
Do you see that very tall plane tree?
What of it?
There is shade there and a moderate breeze and grass to sit on, or, if we like, to lie down on.
Lead the way.
Plato, Phaedrus, [229a] – [229d]
FokiaNou Art Space is pleased to present the work of Sebastian Boulter, an Athens-based painter from Finland whose work often refers to environmental issues. He is interested in manipulated landscapes by human beings and other traces and tracks that humans leave behind them in nature. This exhibition of a series of drawings and paintings takes as its subject the river Ilisos, from the area between Kaisariani and Kallithea. Although this part of the river has been covered, that does not preclude one from having a philosophical discussion with a friend next to the river.
Boulter holds a Master degree in painting from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Brussels, Belgium. In Athens for the past year he has worked in the Finnish Institute at Athens as a curator of fine art events and has been involved in cultural exchange between Finland and Greece. The exhibition has been organized in collaboration between FokiaNou Art Space and the Finnish Institute at Athens, with a financial support from VISEK (Centre for the Promotion of Visual Art).
Please find press releases in Greek and English below:
The Gospel of the Enlightened Consumer, 2012
Video essay, 50 min
Thursday, April the 11th at 9pm
Kεντρο ελεγχου τηλεορασεων | TV Control Center
Kyprou 91A, 11364, Kypseli, Athens
In September 2011 Teemu Takatalo's mural criticizing consumerism, The Absolution of the Enlightened Consumer, was censored and destroyed in a gallery in Tampere, Finland, by the producers of the exhibition. The mural consisted of painted company logos of nine businesses with shops in the same shopping mall as the gallery, as well as texts addressing their negligence regarding programs of social and environmental responsibility.
The brutal act against a critical but harmless painting evoked some inconclusive public debate, but more importantly it brought up some crucial questions: why is the business sector so preoccupied with trying to convince us of its virtue? With the destructive character of the capitalist economy a generally accepted fact, why do people who recognize this still kneel and stoop in front of the altars of capitalism?
By analyzing these phenomena Takatalo diagnosed a wider conceptual error inherent to consumerism and capitalist models of production: both are structured in a way that bears a remarkable resemblance to concepts of the Christian theology – even though capitalism and the western culture are nowadays primary understood as secular.
As the capitalist market economy constitutes a platform for most human interactions, the
Christian concept of goodness has transformed into the immaterial qualities of products; good deeds are done through consumption and absolution happens in a supermarket instead of a church. However, despite all this goodness, the capitalist market and production has built up a growing number of serious global problems. These dynamics have created a new political subject: the enlightened consumer.
Teemu Takatalo is an Athens-based Finnish visual artist, a musician and a writer.
The film is in Greek with English subtitles
The event has been organized by the Finnish Institute at Athens.
Curated by: Sebastian Boulter
Τo Ευαγγέλιο του Πεφωτισμένου Καταναλωτή 2012, 50’
αποτελεί ένα δοκίμιο σε μορφή βίντεο από τον φινλανδό καλλιτέχνη Τέεμου Τάκαταλο
Πέμπτη 11 Απριλίου, 21:00
κεντρο ελεγχου τηλεορασεων
Κύπρου 91Α & Σικίνου 35Α, 11361 Κυψέλη, Αθήνα
Τον Σεπτέμβριο του 2011 η τοιχογραφία του Τέεμου Τάκαταλο The Absolution of the
Enlightened Consumer, η οποία ασκούσε κριτική στην κατανάλωση, λογοκρίθηκε και
καταστράφηκε από τους παραγωγούς της έκθεσης σε μια γκαλερί στο Τάμπερε της
Φινλανδίας. Η τοιχογραφία αποτελούνταν από ζωγραφισμένα λογότυπα εννέα
επιχειρήσεων, οι οποίες είχαν καταστήματα στο ίδιο εμπορικό κέντρο στο οποίο
στεγαζόταν και η γκαλερί. Επίσης μαζί με τα λογότυπα υπήρχαν κείμενα σχετικά με την
αδιαφορία αυτών των επιχειρήσεων προς διάφορα κοινωνικά και περιβαλλοντικά
Η κτηνώδης αυτή πράξη ενάντια σε μια επικριτική αλλά ακίνδυνη τοιχογραφία
προκάλεσε χλιαρή δημόσια συζήτηση, αλλά πρώτα απ’ όλα έφερε στην επιφάνεια κάποια
κρίσιμα ερωτήματα: γιατί όλες οι επιχειρήσεις προσπαθούν να μας πείσουν για τις
αρετές τους; Εάν ο καταστροφικός χαρακτήρας της καπιταλιστικής οικονομίας είναι
γενικά αποδεκτός, γιατί κάποιος που τον αναγνωρίζει, εξακολουθεί να γονατίζει και να
προσεύχεται μπροστά στους βωμούς του καπιταλισμού;
Αναλύoντας τα παραπάνω, ο Τέεμου Τάκαταλο ανακάλυψε ένα ευρύτερο εννοιολογικό
σφάλμα που υπάρχει στην κατανάλωση και την καπιταλιστική παραγωγή: είναι και οι
δύο στημένες με τρόπο που θυμίζει τη Χριστιανική θεολογία, παρόλο που ο
καπιταλισμός και η δυτική κουλτούρα αναγνωρίζονται σήμερα ως κάτι κοσμικό.
Η καπιταλιστική αγορά είναι μία πλατφόρμα που περιλαμβάνει όλες τις ανθρώπινες
δραστηριότητες. έτσι η χριστιανική έννοια της καλοσύνης συναντάται στις άυλες
ιδιότητες προϊόντων, οι καλές πράξεις, γίνονται μέσω της κατανάλωσης, και η άφεση
αμαρτιών συμβαίνει σε ένα σούπερ μάρκετ αντί σε μία εκκλησία. Ωστόσο, παρά την
τόση καλοσύνη, η καπιταλιστική αγορά και η παραγωγή δημιουργούν έναν αυξανόμενο
αριθμό παγκόσμιων προβλημάτων. Αυτές οι δυναμικές κατασκεύασαν ένα νέο πολιτικό
υποκείμενο: τον φωτισμένο καταναλωτή.
Ο Τέεμου Τάκαταλο είναι visual artist, μουσικός και συγγραφέας, εγκατεστημένος στην
Η ταινία θα προβληθεί στην ελληνική γλώσσα με αγγλικούς υπότιτλους.
Επιμε#λεια: Sebastian Boulter
Με τη συνεργασία του Φινλανδικού Ινστιτούτου Αθηνών.
This is a callout for financial support!
Political Stencil is a project based on using stencil graffiti as a way to merge political action and art in Greece. For several years the project has been active using street art as a way to critique power, fight fascism and create solidarity.
They are now raising funds in order to publish a book of their work, the sales of which will go towards material for more actions. Please consider financially supporting this excellent collective who do great work under difficult circumstances.
So many people come to Greece for inspiration and material, whether it is artists, activists, journalists or academics. This is an excellent way to give something back.
Find the project description below and on the Indiegogo website :
We are “Political Stencil”, a team of artists and activists, active in the urban landscapes of Athens and abroad.
Commentating is our force of action. We keep our focus on sociopolitical issues and actively engage in bashing fascist, sexist and racist views. We stand against austerity policies and any form of state repression.
It is the political and social momentum that moves us. Each case and incident we choose to act upon is individual and in some form mirrors issues deeply rooted in our society.
Our revenues come solely from our work. Our first, self-published edition brought us up to here. Now we are trying to collect the funds for our second, enhanced edition which will contain five years of our work.
What We Need & What You Get
We need the funding in order to print our five-year, limited edition publication.
We are planning to sell this publication so we can keep financing our project and remain independent from the need of receiving funds that will put our freedom of expression into risk.
Selling our books is our only means of financing and we ask for your help to keep going.
In order to support our campaign, you can either preorder our catalogue or purchase a handmade T-shirt, stenciled with one of our works.
Humor, sarcasm, exaggeration and linguistic distortion are our tools against mass media propaganda. Officially we are vandals, since unauthorized graffiti is characterized as such.
We accept the term and insist with what we do but we retain the notion that we are vandals with a certain air and an opinion that is worth to be heard.
Help us keep going!
Other Ways You Can Help
Some people just can't contribute, we understand that and that's perfectly ok. But if you like what we do, please share it so other people might know about our project.
Looking for more information or have a question? See the FAQ
Political Stencil facebook page: www.facebook.com/politicalstencil/
Οι εγκαταστάσεις του Vesala συνδυάζουν γλυπτική, κινούμενη εικόνα, φως και ήχο σε ένα υποβλητικό αποτέλεσμα, συχνά μάλιστα περιλαμβάνουν την ανθρώπινη φιγούρα. Στόχος του Vesala είναι να προκαλέσει ερωτήματα σχετικά με τη μοναχική ανθρώπινη συμπεριφορά μέσα από λεπτές χειρονομίες και ντελικάτη ατμόσφαιρα.
Εμάς, τους θεατές, μας προσελκύει η περιρρέουσα ατμόσφαιρα ενός αξιοσημείωτου γεγονότος που έχει συμβεί ή πρόκειται να συμβεί και κρύβεται στη σκιά της ηρεμίας. Ο θεατής παραμένει στον ρόλο τού μάρτυρα και αφήνεται να αναλογιστεί τις περιστάσεις και το περιβάλλον όσων εμπλέκονται άμεσα και έμμεσα στα έργα. Η αίσθηση του μυστηρίου ακολουθεί τον θεατή ακόμα και μετά την αναχώρησή του.
Το αίσθημα της μοναξιάς είναι ένα από τα βασικά θέματα που προσεγγίζει ο καλλιτέχνης. Οι χαρακτήρες των έργων κοιτούν τόσο στον εσωτερικό όσο και τον εξωτερικό τους κόσμο, ωστόσο κλείνονται πάντα στον εαυτό τους. Ο θεατής αναγνωρίζει τα φυσικά εμπόδια του ανθρώπου, εμπόδια μεταξύ του εσωτερικού και του εξωτερικού κόσμου, και συνειδητοποιεί τα όρια που υπάρχουν μεταξύ τους.
Ο Jarno Vesala είναι σύγχρονος φινλανδός καλλιτέχνης. Γεννήθηκε στη Ράουμα της Φινλανδίας το 1977 και σήμερα ζει και εργάζεται στη Νόκια. Το 2004 ολοκλήρωσε τις καλλιτεχνικές του σπουδές στο Τμήμα Τέχνης και Επικοινωνίας του Πανεπιστημίου Εφαρμοσμένων Επιστημών του Τάμπερε. Δουλειά του παρουσιάστηκε για πρώτη φορά στο Τάμπερε το 2003. Έργα του παρουσιάστηκαν επίσης στα φεστιβάλ τέχνης το 2008 και το 2018 στη πόλη Μάνττα, στην Kluuvi gallery το 2009, στην Πίρκανμάα το 2009 και το 2012, στο Μουσείο Τέχνης του Ελσίνκι το 2011 και στο Forum Box το 2012. Το 2013 ανακηρύχθηκε Νέος Φινλανδός Καλλιτέχνης της χρονιάς. Το 2014 τιμήθηκε με το Βραβείο Turku Biennale Prize μαζί με τον Krister Gråhn. Έργα του έχουν παρουσιαστεί επίσης σε πολλές εκθέσεις σε διεθνές επίπεδο, συμπεριλαμβανομένου του «Out of our heads» που επιμελήθηκε ο James Putnam και η Βασιλική Τζανακού το 2014. Ακολούθησε η ατομική έκθεση 'Being There' στο Anima-Mundi το 2016 και το φεστιβάλ Nordic Delights στο Soho του Λονδίνου το 2018.
Επιμέλεια: Sebastian Boulter
Εγκαίνια: Τρίτη, 20 Νοεμβρίου, 20:00 Διάρκεια: 21.11 - 8.12.2018
Ώρες λειτουργίας: Τρίτη - Παρασκευή 17:00 - 21:00, Σάββατο 13:00 - 16:00
Vesala’s multi sensory installations combine sculpture, moving image, light and sound to powerful evocative effect. The works often include a human figure. Vesala’s aim is to provoke questions regarding solitary human behavior achieved through subtle gesture and delicate ambience.
We, the viewers, are drawn in to the contained atmosphere, where a profound sense that something notable has or is about to happen lurks within the palpable weight of stillness. We remain in the role of witness, left to ponder the hints to the circumstances surrounding those who are both directly and indirectly present within the works. A truly haunting sense of mystery persists (long after leaving). This feeling of isolation is one of the key themes approached by the artist. The characters in the works face away or inwards preoccupied and belonging to an inner world of their own. We become profoundly aware of the barriers that our bodies provide, barriers between the inner and outer worlds and profoundly aware of the barriers that exist between each other.
Jarno Vesala is a Finnish contemporary artist born in Rauma in 1977. He currently lives and works in Nokia, Finland. Vesala graduated as a visual artist at the Tampere University of Applied Sciences' degree program in arts and communication in 2004. He has first exhibited in Tampere in 2003. Vesala's works have been featured in Mänttä's art festivals 2008 and 2018, Kluuvi gallery 2009, Pirkanmaa triennial 2009 and 2012, Helsinki Art Museum 2011 and Forum Box 2012. He was selected as the Finnish Young Artist of the Year in 2013. In 2014, Vesala won the Turku Biennale Prize with his work with Krister Gråhn. In addition Vesala has featured in numerous exhibitions internationally including 'Out of Our Heads' curated by James Putnam and Vassiliki Tzanakou in 2014, his debut solo exhibition ‘Being There’ at Anima-Mundi in 2016 and the Nordic Delights festival in Soho, London in 2018.
Curated by: Sebastian Boulter
Opening: Tuesday, November 20, 20:00 Duration: 21.11 - 8.12.2018
Visiting hours: Tuesday - Friday 17:00 - 21:00, Saturday 13:00 - 16:00
In time for the Jarno Vesala's (JV) upcoming exhibition at Cheap Art in Athens we publish this interview by the curator Sebastian Boulter (SB).
SB:Human being seems to be the basis in almost all of your works. As a sculptor and a video artist you often deal with situations when a person is by him/her self. With installations you create an environment for them and with lights and sounds a certain kind of mood.
Who are those people and what is their destiny?
JV: The starting point of my works is always a human being and his/her activities. Human being is always by him/herself. My works often have one character (a protagonist), and viewers are the "other" people. Characters in my works are people around me, familiar and unknown. I need a strong experience of a human to be able to handle it in my work. Many of my works include news of human destiny. Into these stories I might have added features of familiar people and environments. I try to create a strong scene in the work. I wish this to be completed by the viewer's own memories and experiences. Through these memories and experiences, the viewer builds his story for the characters of my works.
SB: The environments are often casual, but a bit frightening or pensive. What everyday life means to you?
JV: Casual elements are for example a light, a chair to sit on or food, to eat it. Everyday activities, such walking and sleeping, are done by both, the rich and the poor. I often use such everyday elements in the works, that touch most of the people on earth. For me the everyday life is repetitive, a recurrence of certain kinds of things. It can also be persistent and in a certain way safe.
I am interested in making casual and staged moments in my work. They can be about waiting for an elevator or watching a TV. When in such s kind of activity noting changes, it can become frightening. At such moment, life and death are built simultaneously. When a viewer looks at such a stalled activity, it creates an observation of everyday life. I want the viewer to question our day-to-day activities or just stop at a beautiful, casual moment.
With a help of these simple functions, it creates an important link between the viewer and the work. It creates a common scene or relationship between them. The everyday elements in my works can also be indicative. With these small or big elements, it can create an action or an event where the viewer participates the work consciously or unconsciously. When some kind of relationship has come into being between the character and the viewer, the everyday activity provided by the character becomes subordinate.
SB: Atmospheres created by lights and sounds often refer to dim and darkness or singing, lamentation and silence. How important in your works are the relationships between light and darkness, or the tone and silence?
JV: All of these are very important elements. I work mainly in low light and in the early stages of my work, it must also be completely silent. I start to build a work by adding elements slowly to the darkness and/or taking them away. My works consist of these small residual elements. The sounds and the lights create a rhythm to the work. They also give the work a duration and a cycle. I did not want to put talk on my work. I also try to leave out the relevance of language.
SB: You have made a new work for this exhibition in Cheapart gallery. Has the space of gallery affected the content of the work?
JV: The new work mainly binds the other works of the exhibition together to an ensemble. The character in the work is in a certain way in the space between the other works.
SB: In an unfinished book for young artists, Dürer cautions that too much exertion may lead one to "fall under the hand of melancholy".
Are your works about the melancholy or have you experienced melancholy because of over exertion?
JV: I always feel melancholy after intense work. After the completion of my work appears un leisurely and stagnation. Then I often wait horrified, what will happen this time. Yes, I have a lot of melancholy of waiting and longing in my works, but I often see there humour as well.
SB: Some sociologists argue that, motivated by capitalism and industrialism’s degrading effects on human existence and perception, writers and artists of the 19th century turned more towards self-reflection. Therefore, the portrayal of everyday life was represented in their writings and art to a noticeably greater degree than in past works.
Is there self-reflection in your art in relation to everyday life?
JV: In contemporary art of the 21st century, self-reflection is not very sexy, but I do so. And I do also consider it very important and interesting But the most important thing is how to bring it up as an artist and what you want to tell to the viewer.
The Video Installation Exhibition 'My Turn' by Jarno Vesala is curated by Sebastian Boulter and opens on Tuesday, 20th November 2018 at 20:00 and runs until 8 december 2018.
25 A.Metaxa str.
106 81, Athens, Greece
Facebook event: www.facebook.com/events/2204820776399385/
Our friend Julia Tulke reflects on the phenomenon of documenta 14 and the opinions of this widely criticised spectacle as seen on the walls and other surfaces of Athens.
Re-posted with kind permission from: http://aestheticsofcrisis.org/2017/sincerely-the-indigenous/
In the summer of 2016 a stenciled slogan began appearing sporadically in public squares of Athens: “Dear Documenta, I refuse to exoticize myself to increase your cultural capital,” signed “Sincerely, the Indigenous.” Though small in scale and modest in distribution, the work gestures towards the contentious relationship between the autonomous modes of cultural production that have been fostered by the ongoing state of crisis in Greece, and the institutionalized contemporary art world. It articulates the widely shared skepticism about the sincerity of Documenta 14’s guiding theme Learning from Athens. For the organizers, looking towards a city that has been at the epicenter of the European financial crisis for years was meant as a gesture of solidarity and an intervention into mainstream discourses of the crisis. As head curator Adam Szymszcyk describes in a recent interview with Artforum:
One of the reasons to work in Athens […] is precisely to make the exhibition in a place where you can see how problematic things are at the moment, and how much worse they may soon become—though not, naturally, to simply induce passive spectatorship. Our rubric “Learning from Athens” emphasizes an idea of active exchange—not an extraction but rather a distribution of knowledge that propagates outward, reconfiguring the relationship between those who speak and those who are spoken about.
This narrative, however, has been met with considerable criticism. Since its opening in April 2017, Documenta 14 has been posited as “a form of German cultural imperialism, or misery tourism” and accused of perpetuating exploitative patterns of “colonialism and exoticization.” The organizers also faced criticism for failing to adequately involve the local art scene of Athens, for being complicit in precarious employment schemes, and for failing to commit to a solidary stance towards the tens of thousands of refugees stuck in Greece under precarious conditions. One of the harshest critics of Documenta has been former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who recently explained that:
The point is not that they came but rather how they came to Athens, whom they went to bed with (metaphorically), and how they used a seemingly progressive left-wing critique of what is happening in Greece to willingly or unwillingly propagate the very process that is causing the country’s crisis. In the name of seeking solutions they became part of the problem.
With kind permission we are republishing this video essay by Julia Tulke from our partner Aesthetics of Crisis, as a very accurate presentation of a unique aspect of a very special city.
"In contemporary Athens the performative practices of street art and graffiti have gained new significance as unsanctioned mediums of public expression and dissent, a development deeply entwined with the transformations of the material and social landscapes of the city in the context of the ongoing crisis. This video essay reflects on how Athenian artists mediate everyday life with crisis and austerity, and claim the walls of the city as sites of subversive political speech and imagination.
This video essay was produced for the "Art, Expression, and Democracy" seminar at the University of Sheffield: bankstreetarts.com/events/art-expression-democracy-seminar/
List of Featured artists: Achilles, Angel, Bleeps, Borondo, Cacao Rocks, Dimitris Taxis, EX!T, Hope, Jupiterfab, Mapet, Mora, N_Grams, NDA, Noir, Oré, Paul, Scar One, Sidron, Wild Drawing (WD)
"The only terrorist is the 8'o'clock news" courtesy of Kostas Kallergis, all other photographs author's own." -Julia Tulke
By early summer 2015 it was becoming common knowledge that the big art event documenta was to take place in both Athens and its native Kassel in 2017, and that this was somehow a big deal. Exactly how it was a big deal was unknown and predictions ranged from positive to negative. However, years of crushing political and economic crises combined with uprisings and defeats, fascist wet dreams and waves of refugee influxes had by this point seen Athens move from hot to forgotten a few times. That art and creativity existed in a unique and inspiring way in Athens felt like a well kept secret, far from the mainstream and even invisible to the imagination of many locals who would rather dream of the ghost of Berlin past.
Though the conditions are ripe for experimentation and allow for creative infrastructures due to a broader disintegration of economic stability and a solid state, lack of income in the form of art funding and a market also counter the emergence and solidification of art currents. It is very possible to create various kinds of art spaces and live in Greece with a certain form of economic freedom due to the relative low cost of living, but of course this is balanced by the lack of money. This is not a new condition for artists however, as artists tend to be poor and therefore have often congregated in pre-gentrification or pre-development areas, so a location in a limbo of multiple crises fits as an artist habitat.
I believe this to be the main reason for an influx of international artists in Athens in the last years, especially young ones, who can have breathing space and contemplate their future moves, a luxury not offered by the expensive capitals of north-western Europe such as Paris, Amsterdam and London. And so it should perhaps not come as such a surprise that documenta appears in Athens, seemingly out of the blue but drawn by those very same conditions that have disappeared in many European capitals. One can also speculate that this old giant of art events came here to gather some kind of relevance as whatever post-WWII rejection and renewal laid at its foundation had long ago become dated, and Kassel as a location feels obsolete.
As part of our research, we at the Holobiont Project have often taken up this impending influential art event with artists, academics and other cultural workers both within Greece and internationally, in order to try to understand it but also to gather impressions and expectations. Our findings have almost been entirely negative, with expectations being expressed through terms such as exploitation, exoticisation and colonialism, painting a picture of a massive art market monster invading Athens, feeding itself on voluntary work and subsidies for the benefit of a few strong art powers whilst giving nothing back but empty hope. It has been suggested that looking at the aftermath of documenta might be more interesting than speculating about the event itself, as a retrospective perspective would allow for clearer analysis of the real impact.
An early insight into these feelings was well represented by a stencil that we first spotted at the walls of Circuits and Currents, a space run by students from the Athens School of Fine Arts and a product of a cooperation with the Academy of Fine Art in Munich. The stencil said: “DEAR DOCUMENTA: I REFUSE TO EXOTISIZE MYSELF TO INCREASE YOUR CULTURAL CAPITAL. SINCERELY, OI I8AGENEIS”. The translation of the signature means The Indigenous. More than a year later documenta had established itself more thoroughly and after the opening of an office in the historically important Polytechnic University in Exarchia, Athens, and several smaller talks and presentations, the more significant 34 Exercises of Freedom began in September 2016 in a building at Parko Eleftheria (Park of Freedom). The events that started to take place there, and are still ongoing, opened up a multitude of themes and infused both international and local perspectives into a forum for art theory and issues about representation. The inclusive and diverse nature of these talks offers a surprising countering of the initial expectations of documenta that we gathered from a broad range of discussions. This seems to indicate that the documenta team are not entirely cut out from the local reality and critical voices, and that the theme of this specific edition of documenta, ‘Learning from Athens’, is more than a phrase but rather an actual approach.
-Some images from the initial exhibition.
We are very happy to be welcoming the Finnish artists Salla Lahtinen and Kirsikka Ruohonen in early December. They are working towards creating the next step of their exhibition FANTASIA=IKKUNA (which means FANTASY=WINDOW) in Athens and will be researching various opportunities for the realisation of this. The themes of the first exhibition are described by the artists as:
"Salla Lahtinen & Kirsikka Ruohonen are the components of an open collective that arranges exhibitions and other creative events and acts. The foundation of the work is visual arts, and it centers on topics of identity, sexuality and contemporary communicational tools. The collective's first exhibition FANTASIA=IKKUNA combined painting, drawing, sound art, video, and events. Some of the notable events included, an evening of discussion about sexuality in connection to images, and gigs performed by the artists that collaborated with Lahtinen & Ruohonen on the exhibition.
The first exhibition took place in January 2016 at Asematila in Helsinki."
The next phase of the exhibition will involve installation, painting and sculpture/performance, and will lead to an overall installation through the creative process. The exhibition will consist of Lahtinen’s work “You should smile more”, which is an installation made of organic cotton canvas with repetitive prints of Lahtinen’s own smile. Ruohonen’s new series of paintings, displayed under the term “Rakastan” (“I love”), depicts penises from pornographic sources. She studies the absence of female gaze in pornography and how it urges the women consuming porn to identify with penises of the male actors. Ruohonen will continue with the same style as in the paintings of butts that were a central part of the initial exhibition, using acrylic, mineral pigment and Japanese paper.
The first FANTASIA=IKKUNA exhibition was about individual experience derived from sexting and self-representations of sexuality, whilst this continuation will focus more on general representations. Lahtinen’s work will circulate around the topic of keeping up appearances and the pressure of cultural conventions that individuals need to follow in western society (combined with the personal experiences of being demanded by strangers to smile more). Adding to this will be Ruohonen’s phallic paintings that will add an absurd and strange sexual atmosphere. The collective will open up to include works and participation by the Athenian artist Antigoni Tsagkarapoulou, who will complement the themes through her own work. Furthermore, Ruohonen will perform as her rap alter ego “Adikia”, in what we hope to be a series of events taking place around the exhibition and including local artists.
This visit will be based on meeting partners, collaborators and identifying spaces suitable for the realisation of this next phase of the exhibition.
For more info about the artists and their work, click on photos below:
Last winter and spring we met the Finnish artist Lucas Vogt in Athens and ended up hosting him in our office and exploring Athens and creativity with him whilst assisting him with a few projects.
He had been traveling in a camper van through Eastern Europe and the Balkans for several months doing research for a documentary film; interviewing artists, organising workshops, urban studies, and discussing with locals about local news and global phenomenon. Currently he is on the road In Europe again. We asked him to write some words about his Greek adventures for us as an insight into his artistic travels.
One series of workshops I have been organizing involve local artists painting on my van somewhere in public. Elements of music and performance are often included as well. When I started on my journey from Finland the van was completely white like a blank canvas. Throughout Eastern Europe I ran into graffiti writers and street artists who all added to what is now accumulating into a very colorful and layered collage of different aesthetics. As far as direction, I’ve tried to emphasize this collage aspect by encouraging a new piece to comment on or somehow interact with what is already there.
I believe it is important to promote more room for creative expression in the urban public space. What I've noticed in the Eastern Bloc countries is that practicing street art and graffiti is still loaded with a counter-culture mentality, and that practicing it openly on your own property, but in the public space, leads to interesting reactions from people passing by. Athens, on the other hand, is the most painted city I have ever seen. This over-saturation completely neutralizes the art form in the eyes of the public space. Instead I invited two groups of children to participate in the workshop.
The first round was held on the ancient battlefield of Thermopylae, where there happens to be a refugee hotspot. Mohamed, a refugee himself, volunteers as a teacher at the hotspot and he helped me coordinate an action together with a group of around thirty children, who ecstatically scribbled, colored, drew, and wrote on the van with markers.
Greece has been in the news a lot lately due to the influx of refugees from the on-going civil war in Syria. But immigrants and refugees are certainly no new phenomenon for Greece. Within what is being described as BlockArt in the neighbourhood of Psirri in Athens one can find the Galleries Sarri 12 and Exit and The Holobiont Project offices, as well as lots of street art. Furthermore, the area offers free drama classes for local kids every Saturday and I had the pleasure of organizing a workshop with nine first-generation migrant children aged 4-9.
Johan, Abdel, Tahrim, Mohamed, Jodi, Mariam, Mona, Alexander, and Franklin were given a short pep-talk about creativity and encouraged to decorate the van however they saw fit. Besides acrylic paint markers, they were equipped with a megaphone and a video camera. Almost all of the shots in this video were filmed independently by the children themselves.
Photos from the artworks put together by Hop Louie & Hello Banana for the exhibition 'Caged City' which opened on the 7th of July at the Sarri 12 Gallery in Athens. The exhibition was produced by the Holobiont Project in collaboration with the Sarri 12 and Momangen galleries.
Hop Louie and Hello Banana are two street artists based in Stockholm, Sweden. On the 7th of July they will have their first exhibition in Athens, Greece, a location which offers a very different reality. Until recently, Stockholm had a zero tolerance towards graffiti and street art, promising to remove anything appearing on walls within 24 hours and prohibiting advertisements that could be seen to promote graffiti, such as posters for street art exhibitions. The artists have been actively resisting these policies and have taken part in wider struggles concerning public space in the urban environment. This can be contrasted to Athens which appears to offer the polar opposite reality, with an abundance of imagery littering the walls.
We're organising an exhibition in Athens together with our partners Momangen and Sarri 12 and curated by Dora Vasilakou. facebook event is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1714721298787922/
The official text follows:
Sarri 12 Gallery is pleased to announce the first exhibition of the street artists Hop Louie & Hello Banana in Athens, “Caged City”, curated by Dora Vasilakou. The exhibition is jointly organized by Sarri12 Gallery, Momangen Gallery and Holobiont Project.
Here, they encourage you to answer to the Wolf’s Commandments to kill what you eat and eat what you kill.
Urban architecture, industrial zones, modern housing development and landscape gardening are an integral part of the structural reality of a metropolis with chain reactions, rapid changes and apocalypses. Living creatures cohabit in this cityscape in a paradoxical way. The metropolitan environment and the everyday confrontational characteristics of a modern city are at the core of the exhibition theme of the street art duo Hop Louie & Hello Banana.
Fusions of wild animals and buildings, cages and birds, dealing with the notion of personal and collective freedom, unfold as vibrant visual stories of special creatures that flirt with the impossible. A new interpretation of life is presented through constant coexistence and conflict, with contradictory imagery of industrial technology merged with life-forms and emancipation contrasted with restriction. Yet, the world of Hop Louie & Hello Banana is not a dystopian one. It rather combines contradictions and as Camus developed in his philosophical theories of change, “the Paradox of Absurd”. Human beings are caught in a constant attempt to derive meaning from a meaningless world. This is the floating point where the two artists critically stand their voice.
Using mixed media techniques and working playfully on several surfaces (wall, wood, cardboard) the two Swedish artists produce a roster of stencils, collages and wall paintings, a blend of urban and industrial landscapes with organic life-forms into continuous transformations that draw inspiration from nature, human manufacturing and alternative ecological dynamics.
The exhibition title concentrates on the paradox itself, life trapped in the capitalist urban milieu, the city as a cage full of life. Black and white contrasted with solid colors and detailed textures are used to explore the attraction of today’s consumerism, along with the madness of a more and more non-viable world.
HELLO BANANA started with political stickers 10 years ago. In the last couple of years her focus has been on combining patterns, colours and shapes of different animals and weapons. Her style is evolving and often work with bright colours and gritty backgrounds. For this exhibition her focus is on stencils, birds and the contrasts of freedom. On the streets, she works mainly with posters but also with stencils and spray paint.
HOP LOUIE has worked with street art in one form or another since the late 90s. He is a well known name in Stockholm street art environment. With spray paint, stencils, wheatpaste, posters and stickers he spreads his art in the public space. His art embraces current political topics and puts his finger on the social climate and the question of who owns public space. With creativity and integrity as weapons, he creates subjects that colour and question the relentless cityscape.
Opening : July 7th Thursday, 20:00
Duration: 8th July- 1st September 2016
Opening Dates & Hours: Wednesday to Sunday 12:00-19:00
Contact info: email@example.com, +30 697 648 4135
Press inquires: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarri 12, Psyrri
Athens 10553, GR
Our friends in Denmark made this great teaser trailer for our upcoming talk in Aarhus this coming Wednesday. It captures the randomness and chaos of the Athenian streets very well. Check it out!
We are very happy to announce a new partnership in Århus, Denmark, with the Mødestedet Gallery. We will be presenting our findings and thoughts about Nordic/Greek collaborations and interactions and starting a discussion about the possibilities and paths towards working together.
Like their FACEBOOK PAGE,
follow them on TWITTER,
and if you're around, drop by on the 6th of April at 19:00.
INSTITUT FOR X (by Godsbanen),
SKOVGAARDSGADE 5, 8000 C, AARHUS
BTW BUILDING A AND B
In the last months we have met many interesting artists, actors, cultural producers, collectives and more. We have also participated in discussions with academics from Germany and the United Kingdom and most of the conversations have been centred around social impacts of art, economic impacts on art and ways of organising and producing. Whilst these aspects are extremely interesting, we noticed at some point that the focus on art itself was not so prominent.
Therefore we are posting a piece of art, produced by Teemu takatalo of the project, and relevant in a sense due to the recent discussions about censorship in Greece, but also in other parts of Europe. And also relevant because of the topics in the film itself.
Teemu's blog is: http://www.yleisradio.net
For more videos by Teemu, please visit:
A description of the film can be found below:
In September 2011 Teemu Takatalo's consumer critical mural The Absolution of the Enlightened Consumer was censored and destroyed in a gallery, in Tampere, Finland by the producers of the exhibition. The painting consisted of painted company logos of nine business enterprises, having their shops in the same shopping mall with the gallery, and texts about negligence of their social and environmental responsibility programs.
Read the full description by clicking HERE
We had the pleasure of welcoming Georg Eichinger and Heiner Legewie on the 22nd of February. Teemu was interviewed and photographed as part of their research towards an exhibition on Greek and international artists working in Athens. The discussion concerned crisis, economy, research methodologies, the future of art and Athens as a place of contradictions and creativity. Teemu was photographed as part of the material for the upcoming photographic exhibition. We greatly appreciate the richness of the conversation and exchange of ideas and expertise in research approaches and analysis.
Georg Eichinger and Heiner Legewie also interviewed and photographed Athenian street artists WD and Lotek, amongst others. More about this upcoming exhibition in the future.
Please like their Facebook page about the project to find out more: https://www.facebook.com/arttistsinathens
Here are some of their own words about the project:
As a photographer (Georg Eichinger) and a social scientist (Heiner Legewie) we want to explore the interaction between arts and economic crisis in Athens: How does the crisis influence artistic work formally and regarding the content and objectives of art work, how do artists and gallery owners cope with the situation, what kinds of cooperation and production models do they develop?
The art scene of Athens has become one of the most interesting places in Europe - as was Berlin in the years after the unification. We are convinced that artists are part of the vanguard in society and sort of seismographs to analyse social problems and develop visions of the future by their work. Therefore we share the motto of Documenta 2017 "Learning from Athens".
We want to interview and photograph Greek and international artists, gallery owners and curators of the Documenta team to document in our exhibition the social and artistic kosmos of art in Athens.
On the evening of Thursday the 18th of February, we presented the Holobiont Project and the research project '2Extremes' to our partner gallery in Stockholm Galleri Momangen. The discussions were open to the public and took place in various stages. The research project has been carried out during the last 5 months and has led to the practical creation of the Holobiont Project, a partnership with galleries and artist projects and will result in a publication which is due to be released in the coming months.
We discussed themes such as social sustainability, gentrification, militant collective methodologies, the dilemma of nationalism in relation to funding, economy and international collaborations. We also talked about differences and similarities between the realities in Stockholm and Athens and the available resources and infrastructure we can offer each other. These discussions will be continued in person in Stockholm in March and we will be working towards more exchanges and the possibilities for members of Momangen and their artists to visit Athens for exhibitions, meetings, workshops and whatever we might want to create.
The Holobiont Project's research project publication will be available at the Momangen Gallery once completed.