October 26, 2021

Lucky Life

Arts Fanatics

Cathryn Drake about Athens – Artforum Global

6 min read


THE MAD FLURRY of art openings in the wake of Greece’s 6-thirty day period lockdown started with a showdown: an exhibition of sculptures by Blind Adam (Thanos Kyriakidis) in the catacombs of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity was shut down at the last minute by the head priest, Father Synesius Victoratos. “I do not know significantly about artwork, but all the works are black and appear like pagan talismans,” he reasoned. “We apologize for the inconvenience, but our patrons are conservative.” Funded by the NEON Organization, the show, titled “The Finish. Following In advance of,” had previously wended by way of a rigorous approval system by the Archaeological Provider and Archdiocese of Athens, but the Ministry of Society deferred to the autonomy of the church. The main object of concern was Metamorphosis—a squamous, shimmery serpent poised to pounce in a corner of the previous temple to Apollo.

“It is censorship, but I really do not sense a victim,” Kyriakidis claimed. “The functions gave off a strong electrical power like they belonged there, and that is what freaked them out.” Persons showed up anyway, possibly to support the artist or oblivious to the situation, whilst the artwork remained locked driving the weighty picket doors of the Byzantine church. Anyone questioned, “But isn’t there a snake in the Bible?”


Blind Adam’s Metamorphosis.

A several days afterwards I produced the trek to the Deste Foundation for the opening of “Anti-Construction,” the 1st exhibition hosted on the premises—located in a northern suburb previously identified for carpet production—since 2014. Curated by Andreas Melas, the present of will work by twenty-a single artists was structured around resin sculptures slithering in the course of the area by Urs Fischer, as nicely as his Death of a Minute, 2007, a wall of mirrored panels that shift just about imperceptibly, inducing a sense of uncertainty. Artist Thanasis Totsikas shown the razor sharpness of just one his handmade Knives, 2020-2021, and explained his creation of a bikini that couples as a charging machine. It happened to me that survival has replaced luxury as the key to pleasure.

It was a subdued affair Dakis and Lietta Joannou waved as they fled early. Outside we discovered the ersatz Gagosian Gallery, installed by Improper Gallery (Maurizio Cattelan, Massimiliano Gioni, and Ali Subotnick) in 2006. The true Gagosian boldly opened a palatial outpost in the metropolis center very last September with a show by Hydra resident Brice Marden. A large amount of foreigners have waited out the pandemic in Athens, transferring right here by default, just as numerous Greeks relocated to rural options. Curator Alexios Papazacharias described his new existence in Larissa: “I walk 5 minutes in a single direction to the metropolis middle and in the other to come across unspoiled mother nature.” Artist Alessio de Girolamo and I headed for Athens’s neighboring hills, in which we discovered breathtaking views of the sprawling metropolis and a man named Lykourgos and his canine Thelma, who showed us wherever to select sage and fennel.


An On Kawara postcard to Dan Graham.

A astonishing selection of people woke up early sufficient that Saturday to catch Pierre Bal-Blanc’s 10:49 a.m. lecture-performance for the demonstrate “I Received Up,” at Hot Wheels, motivated by On Kawara’s diaristic collection of postcards (on screen are 4 resolved to Dan Graham). The pursuing Friday evening, Georgia Sagri and Delia Gonzalez donned captioned garments by local designers Serapis Maritime and acted out an intensive ritualistic efficiency right before the group moved up the street to the lively MatchPoint for out of doors drinks.

Biblical fury interfered once again when a reception scheduled for the NEON show “Portals” was postponed thanks to a flood prompted by unseasonable torrential rains. Organized by the nonprofit in collaboration with the Greek government, the exhibition occupies newly retrofitted areas at the Hellenic Parliament Library, a historic exploration archive in the former General public Tobacco Factory that occupies the complete metropolis block. Previous Tuesday night, NEON director Dimitris Daskalopoulos spoke from a podium in the broad glass-ceilinged atrium, his figure tripled nearly comically in movie screens to both facet. Hovering on the wall at the rear of was the neon Babel of Glenn Ligon’s Waiting around for the Barbarians, 2021: variously translated variations of the oft-cited phrase from Cavafy’s eponymous poem. The breathtaking space’s perform of exposed industrial components satisfies the monumental functions, even if the extremely wrought wall texts didn’t regulate to bind the show’s scattershot, if usually powerful, range jointly as a coherent whole. There had been resonances involving installations these kinds of as Do Ho Suh’s 348 West 22nd St., 2000–01, a diaphanous fabric recreation of the artist’s New York condominium, and Kutlug Ataman’s Küba, 2004, a sprawling assemblage of forty television sets with dwelling-area tables and chairs—both evoking displacement and longing for a secure property.


Kutlug Ataman, Küba, 2004.

In truth, the inauguration of this new public cultural middle coincides with this year’s bicentennial commemoration of the Greek War of Independence, which led to liberation from the Ottoman Empire and the exodus of thousands and thousands of Greeks and Turks from their homelands. In that context, practically every little thing in NEON’s exhibit seemed to have a double meaning. While “Portals” indicates openings and exits, Europe has still to honor its humanitarian duty to refugees and obstacle, in every language, the perception of barbarians at its borders. (Kader Attia’s concurrent presentation at Point out of Notion, “The Museum of Repair service,” plainly unveiled the fault traces underlying the facade of liberal democracy.) At NEON, the elephant in the place was embodied in a couple of untitled installations by Jannis Kounellis, manufactured of products like iron, apparel, burlap, and earth: reminders of how the Greek artist experienced to leave his personal country to discover his language. One of the most eloquent performs was putting for its incongruous smallness: Eirene Efstathiou’s Pick out Your Flag, 2005: a few little grayscale paintings of a Greek flag broadcast on general public Tv through the dictatorship an ominous hand gesture from a avenue riot and a glittering mirror ball, a nostalgic symbol of indulgence.


Brendan Fernandes performing A Solo Until We Can Dance Again, 2021.

Some tides appear to be to be turning in the art environment at the very least: The Greek Ministry of Lifestyle has, at extended final, proven a new section of up to date artwork and appointed Katerina Gregos as director of the EMST (National Museum of Up to date Art) immediately after an agonizing collection of mishaps and untrue starts off that have plagued the previous brewery making due to the fact its completion. Ideally this signals a new model where by Greek art is supported by the state, somewhat than beholden to the pursuits and intimates of personal foundations. The Acropolis has lastly been outfitted for disabled accessibility with concrete walkways and an classy new elevator ascending the rock, eliciting unwarranted criticism in light-weight of the alterations and invasions over the centuries—if only the total city had been as quick to navigate. Let’s just hope that when we are last but not least unmasked, the smell in the air is one of alter.

As the sunshine set that night, a team of artists and sellers gathered exterior the former manufacturing facility, where by a lone performer addressed us to a wistful yet resolute interpretation of Brendan Fernandes’s A Solo for When We Can Dance Once more.


Artist Dora Economou, curator Galini Notti, and dealer Helena Papadopoulos.

Artist Eirene Efstathiou.

Artist Maria Loizidou.

Artist Thanassis Totsikas.

Artists Maria Loizidou and Panos Kokkinias.

Curator Pierre Bal-Blanc and artist Delia Gonzalez.

Curator Pierre Bal-Blanc and dealer Hugo Wheeler.

Dealers Julia Gardener and Hugo Wheeler.

The Polytechnic school opposite Hot Wheels.

Artist Alexandros Georgiou and curator Stavia Grimani.

Artists Eirene Efstathiou and Alexandros Tzannis.

Chef Zoe Feigenbaum, artist Delia Gonzelez, and Wolfgang Gonzalez-Ihlein.

Collector Dimitris Daskalopoulos and dealer Rebecca Camhi.

Curator Eleni Koukou and artist Panos Kokkinias.

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