Exhibition & Festival of Contemporary Art
Since the beginning of the European idea, Athens has been an exoticized utopia. Recently, as a result of the 2009 worldwide financial crisis, Athens has become the exotic scene of a global drama that has attracted many, including the curators of the recent documenta14.
On November 14, 2019, at 7pm, the festival Athen SYN I will open its doors with the exhibition HOMEMADE EXOTICA, curated by Sotirios Bahtsetzis, at FREIRAUM in der Box, Boxhagener Str. 96, Berlin Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. 16 contemporary Greek artists will present their positions and discuss questions that the documenta14 left open to further evaluation.
What can “learning from Athens” mean in a time of upheaval for Europe, in which all values rooted in European soil that underpin our cultural heritage are questioned? What is left after the demystification of a country which has been subject to stereotyping since 18th century philhellenism, labeled a tourist paradise, and imprinted with the stigma of the crisis? Why are these questions essential for social coexistence in an ethically corroded system?
In lectures and panel discussions during the program ATHENS TALKS on15 -16 November 2019, artists investigate co-existence in a world full of preconceived notions and expectations of the Other, the practices of art production in a failing market, and survival strategies based on communality, mutual support, and individual contribution to the community. At the same time, they discuss why Athens remains a hub of challenges and transformations that should be addressed by a European culture that seems to have reached its present state of exhaustion.
Participating artists and their works
Dionisis Christofilogiannis / George Drivas / Alexandros Kaklamanos / Dionysis Kavallieratos /Georgia Kotretsos/ James Lane / Yorgos Maraziotis / Georgia Sagri/ Yorgos Stamkopoulos/ Joulia Strauss / Vassileia Stylianidou / Yiannis Theodoropoulos / Stefanos Tsivopoulos/ Dimitris Tzamouranis / Zafos Xagoraris / Theodoros Zafeiropoulos
The artworks of the exhibition HOMEMADE EXOTICA induce an almost experiential immersion and invite viewers to become participant in the artworks’ area of research, the Athenian life and its fragile poetics – while at the same time inviting the viewer to dismantle narratives around a mythical place of ancient and contemporary times. Athens acts as a prime example for stereotyping images and utopias of “the other” which tend to get in the way of essential communication and exchange, no matter which whom or what.
Some artworks tend to surround the every day, mundane and almost invisible with mystique, fantasy and grace. This exotic re-enchantment of our world is often done by paying particular attention to the small details of private interiors – as in the photographs of Yannis Theodoropoulos, the installations of Yorgos Maraziotis– or personal mementos as in the assemblages of James Lane.
Other works apply the visual rhetoric of the past, that being the techniques of Renaissance-like, chiaroscuro painting, as in the paintings of Dimitris Tzamouranis, the detailed observation of society as in the drawings of Dionysis Kavallieratos, or even the dismantling of abstract painting in the painterly installations by Yorgos Stamkopoulos.
Hidden facets of Athenian life are uncovered – in the photographs of Georgia Sagri, the paintings of Theodoris Zafeiropoulos, the videos of Stefanos Tzivopoulos as well as the witty actions of Georgia Kotretsos. Joulia Strauss unveils aspects of characters shaping the intellectual life of the city. Cultural stereotypes and biased points of view are discussed; as well as cultural cross-overs and entanglements – in the installations of Zafos Xagoraris, the photographs of Dionisis Christofilogiannis, the videos of George Drivas, the videos of Alexandros Kaklamanos and the video-installations of Vassilea Stylianidou.
The festival is organized by the non-profit initiative AthenSYN with the FREIRAUM in the box with the support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), the Schwarz Foundation and under the patronage of the Greek Ministry of Culture and the Greek Embassy Berlin. Further sponsors: Hellenic Foundation for Culture, Aegean Air / With the support of CeMoG of the Freie Universität Berlin, Greek Community Berlin
ATHEN SYN I: Program
Thursday, November 14, 2019
7pm Exhibition opening
Greeting by Carolina Mojto (director FREIRAUM in der Box), Katja Ehrhardt
(director AthenSYN), Vice-Mayor of Berlin Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg Knut Mildner-Spindler, H.E. Ambassador of Greece in Berlin
Introduction by curator Sotirios Bahtsetzis
Friday, November 15, 2019
2pm, 4pm, 6pm Guided exhibition tour with curator Sotirios Bahtsetzis
Saturday, November 16, 2019
2pm Guided exhibition tour
3pm Talk by curator Sotirios Bahtsetzis„A documenta epilogue”
4pm ATHENS TALKS
– Georgia Kotretsos „Do you speak Exotic?”
– Dimitris Tzamouranis„Melancholie in der Kunst – eine Betrachtung von Aristoteles bis heute”
– Georgos Drivas„Exoticizing and exoticized. A non-existing Greece in a non-existing Europe”
– Joulia Strauss„Lectureperformance: Eine Rechtsform für die Garten-Mensch Hybride“
5.30pm Open podium discussion
6.30pm Guided exhibition tour
Performance/Festival: contemporary dance makers from Greece.
Curator: Yannis Adoniou
21st of November – 1st of December 2019 at Dock11 Berlin, Germany
Artists: Maria Gorgia / Amalgama, Yannis Adoniou | KUNST-STOFF Productions,
Τimos Zechas, Anastasia Brouzioti & Stavros Apostolatos | almalibre.co
The initiative AthenSYN and its goals
The non-profit initiative AthenSYN, which was founded in 2016 by art historian Sotirios Bahtsetzis and cultural scientist Katja Ehrhardt, sensitizes audiences to the context of art as a forum for dialogue and for a critical examination of the future of Europe. Directed by Katja Ehrhardt, AthenSYN builds on the idea that European crises need more than the sum of national responses. At the center of the European crisis, Greece poses questions that are relevant to all of Europe. The aim of a Greek festival in the German capital Berlin is to create an infrastructure for cultural exchange and collaboration. The festival aims to facilitate encounters that offer an alternative to political and economic positions, while the Athens-Berlin axis has both practical as symbolical significance. In times of migration and globalization, art is practiced as education in the multicultural landscape of our changing population structures. Through cooperations in the field of arts and education, AthenSYN tackles stereotypes, develops shared visions of the future and stimulates learning processes.