2010 was the year the crisis began in Greece. After the initial shock, some of us, with greater composure, started to envision the benefits we could obtain as a society. After decades of greed, futility and unrestricted capitalism, the financial crisis could serve as a chance to return to waning values and see the world in its “real” dimensions. Of course, in our minds, the crisis would have been a temporary situation. Nowadays, after 7 years of poverty, unemployment and insecurity –not only in Greece, but in the entirety of Europe- after the waves of immigrants and refugees, any optimism has been erased. We can no longer talk about economic crises of individual countries, but about a crisis which is worldwide, cultural and ethical.
Europe, built upon the ruins of World War II, appears to be rattled by a long-lasting recession, which led to a boundless populism and as a result, the flourishing of phobic extreme right political parties, who came to claim governance even in deeply democratic countries. The exceptionally speedy development of internet and the social media served as a means of public speech for each and every one. Among the benefits which are offered by technology, there was, as a collateral damage, the ease with which these phenomena spread, causing even the misinformation of citizens, through hoax news. “The politics of fear and introversion tends to replace the politics of logic” (Baruch Spinoza). Our fear is no longer personal, nor regional, but existential.
The purpose of this exhibition is to explore all of the above with artworks by Greek contemporary artists of various generations, but with the same dark atmosphere and dire perspective.
Upon entering the exhibition area, the visitor receives a sense of entrainment in an unpleasant, threatening environment. The Great Madman, the imposing metallic sculpture by Costas Coulentianos (1982), the Black Skies by Panos Famelis, the malformed, unfamiliar figures by Makis Theofylaktopoulos (1990) and Katerina Christidi, as well as the Silent Ways by Eugenia Apostolou, depict the effect that a dismal reality has on a person.
Both the frozen “spikey” flag out of pine needles by Martha Dimitropoulou and the picturesque photograph of the Greek country by Manolis Baboussis, question the identity of the state. The investigation on the Greek identity can also be detected at the hanging burlap by Daniil from the early ‘80s. By contrast, Alexis Akrithakis’ 1970-1980’s works, the suitcases, are a symbol of perpetual escape. Harry Patramanis’ video of the old derelict Athens airport Elliniko highlights the deadend of the young generation of Greek citizens, being caught in a limbo, with no chance of escape.
The dining table by Dimitrios Antonitsis, a designy hybrid of a European sovereignty and Greek folklore, refers to the first financial crisis of Greece in 1836, during the reign of king Otto. Equally subversive is the sculpture by Ioanna Pantazopoulou, made out of devaluated North Korean currency.
Eva Mitala’s silk-screens depict the contemporary image of the city. The off-site installation The Athénée Project, by Frini Mouzakitou, in the historical Arsakeio Arcade, marks the desolation of a central commercial Athenian avenue, such as Stadiou street, which links two historical city squares, i.e. Omonoia and Syntagma sq., with its shops closed and the shutters rolled down, reminiscent of a ghost town.
Athens, March 2017
Alexis Akrithakis, Dimitrios Antonitsis, Eugenia Apostolou, Daniil, Martha Dimitropoulou, Makis Theofylaktopoulos, Costas Coulentianos, Eva Mitala, Frini Mouzakitou, Manolis Baboussis, Ioanna Pantazopoulou, Harry Patramanis, Panos Famelis, Katerina Christidi