Impressions of Athens by Julia Heslop, UK artist and writer, republished with kind permission from https://unofficialculture.wordpress.com
The first of some reflections I am writing about a recent trip to Athens. This article goes through feelings of hope, disillusionment, and then (tentative) hope again for a country at the hard end of extreme austerity. I hope that I have managed to illuminate the state of things over there for folks in the UK. Thanks to everyone that helped me out, everyone who was so welcoming, honest and open when I was there.
Debates about censorship of the arts came to light again as a controversial theatre production came to an abrupt end at the end of January, days before it was set to finish officially, after pressure from politicians, NGOs and the American Embassy. “The Nash Equilibrium” (Ισορροπία του Νας) had been performed at the Greek National Theatre’s Experimental Stage (REX) since the beginning of January and had attracted controversy since it contained excerpts of texts written by Savvas Xiros, a convicted member of the group November 17 which carried out 23 assassinations and more than 100 attacks between 1975 and 2002. The leadership of the play decided to cancel the production due to fear for the safety of the staff and the withdrawal of the main sponsor.
Many artists, cultural workers and activists who visit Athens ask us about the situation with the neo-nazi organisation Golden Dawn, an organisation which has gained power and notoriety in recent years. Today we dropped by the offices of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Athens and picked up several copies the new book 'Golden Dawn on Trial' by Dimitris Psarras, which they have published, and which gives an insight into the background of the group and the current trial against them. We also picked up several copies of the info-graphics pamphlet from Golden Dawn Watch, which visually lays out several of the key aspects of the trial and the events and people related to it. This pamphlet is also available online HERE. We will be helping with distributing both the book and the pamphlet to international visitors who we have contact with.
If you're in Athens and you want copies, get in touch and we can get them to you, or contact the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, who are based in Exarchia, and pick some up there. The publication is free.
A significant aspect of the Holobiont Project concerns expanding our already existing networks. We are currently looking for new partners in Iceland and Norway specifically, though our interests are not limited to these two countries.
Back in 2012 the art project Angeli Novi produced the film 'You Can't Stand in the Way of Progress' as a part of a larger solo exhibition in the Museum of Living Art, Reykjavik, September 29 - December 2, 2012. Much of the footage in the film was shot in and around Athens and the topics are just as relevant today as in 2012. The project brought together local, international and Icelandic individuals and artists and is representative of the kind of collaboration and networking which the Holobiont Project wishes to accommodate. Nik Karlsson worked on several logistical aspects of the film.
More info about the project from the artists can be found below.
The big art event documenta, which takes place every five years in Kassel, will for the first time exist in a new location. The event will start in Athens in 2017, then start in Kassel where it will also finish. The publication South as a state of mind will act as a as a publication from within which documenta 14 will provide "research, critique, art, and literature paralleling the years of work on the exhibition overall, one that will help define and frame its concerns and aims". It would be fair to assume that the art and cultural worlds of Athens will be affected by the presence of such a big and well known occurrence and we will be looking into this effects and what the possibilities are for collaboration or parallel artistic and cultural work.
Please read below to see the introduction to this upcoming collaboration:
We often imagine our place in the world—or others imagine it for us—via loaded directionals like North and South, East and West. Or it might be said that one's movement in these directions is paramount. What does it mean, then, in 2015 for documenta—a German institution firmly rooted in the global North, begun, as it was, as an exhibition dedicated to “Western European art” in 1955 in the city of Kassel, which once looked toward West Germany’s Eastern frontier– to publish a magazine called South? Further, what does it mean for documenta 14 to be hosted by an already-existing Athens magazine called South as a State of Mind? These are some of the questions we have asked ourselves as we spent the past several months editing the first documenta volume of South in Athens. In its new, temporary role as the magazine of documenta 14, South arrives late this October, a year and a half before the exhibition is scheduled to open, first on April 8, 2017, and then in Kassel two months later, on June 10.
this is our first blog post for the new initiative, The Holobiont Project. It is the realisation of an idea which has existed for some time and which has come into being through the combined work and initiative of Nik Karlsson, Teemu Takatalo and Matina Pantelaki.
Born out of a combination of art, travels, culture and an interest in different ways of organisation and living, the project aims to take advantage of already existing connections to explore possibilities for cultural cross-pollination. We are not interested in the art industry, but rather in free and ever changing creativity. The project has a Nordic dimension due to the countries of origin of two of the members, but we are more interested in challenging and de-constructing national identities than romanticising them. There is also a Greek dimension since this is where we all met and because we have a great interest in this country, at the other edge of Europe, which challenges many of our own assumptions whilst at the same time inspiring us in new ways.
We wish to facilitate and develop an already loosely connected Nordic network and also connect it to the creative fertile environment of Greece, and in particularly, Athens. Therefore we are creating a clear network and developing visits, exchanges, discussions, meetings and events. On this blog we will present our findings, thoughts, projects and ideas. We see this as the very beginning of something which will grow and spread into various initiatives and projects.
We are currently having several production and research meetings in Athens, exploring neighbourhoods, writing texts and meeting local artists and cultural workers.
Check this blog for further developments and please follow us on Facebook & Twitter.
If you wish to contact us, please feel free to fill in our contact form HERE.