Early summer, besides often being unusually hot for those residing in Athens, is a time filled with interesting exhibition openings, arts events and cultural festivals. While I keep wondering if it is possible to attend every single one of them my schedule seems already booked with a variety of things to see and enjoy: from open air video art screenings, live concerts with iconic multimedia artists, like Laurie Anderson, to photo festivals, exhibitions in the basements of old office buildings and Shakespearean performances.
What is the relationship between contemporary art and beer in Athens?
A deserted brewery, a remarkable sample of industrial architecture and Athenian modernism created by architect Takis Zenetos, has been selected as the ideal place to host the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens. The reconstruction of New Emst, as it is called, has been completed a few years ago and, although the museum has not officially opened for the public every so often it hosts events and performances with free entrance. An exquisite occasion to visit the museum’s amazing terrace and enjoy the Athenian night in its glory will be Tuesday June 21st. In the context of the celebrations for the International Music Day the New Emst collaborates with the National Opera for a special concert on the roof.
Screenings in the park, concerts, activities for kids and Piano
Just for four days the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens, Attica opens its gates to the public and turns into a wide open area of creativity, fun and exploration for adults as well as kids. The SNFFC, designed by internationally acclaimed architect Renzo Piano, consists of the Stavros Niarchos Park as well as the new facilities for the National Library and the National Opera. Regardless of having already visited the centre whenever there it seems difficult not to marvel at the breathtaking view and at Piano’s architectural ingenuity. From June 23rd to June 26th, during the cultural event under the title “Metamorphosis: The SNFCC to the World”, the visitors of the SNFCC will be able to see iconic artist Laurie Anderson perform live, watch video art screenings and films, enjoy performances and participate in a series of athletic and cultural activities. And all these, mind you, for free!
Photography celebrated in Athens
Athens Photo festival was established a few decades back – in 2017 it celebrates its 30-year anniversary- and constitutes one of the most significant festivals of photography in South-eastern Europe. Hundreds of photo experts as well as photography professionals or simply photo lovers arrive in Athens, Attica, in the beginning of June to attend its events. The main programme of this year’s festival, under the title “[mis/dis]placed”, takes place at the Benaki Museum, in Pireos street, from 9 June until 31 July 2016. Besides the solo and group photo exhibitions organised in the Benaki Museum numerous events, such as talks, lectures, international portfolio reviews, screenings and workshops are part of its programme. Additionally, its satellite programme includes a variety of exhibitions and projects related to photography in galleries, museums and independent art spaces all over Athens. Among this year’s highlights is the group exhibition “America” hosted in CAN gallery in the Kolonaki area.
Queen Elizabeth and her birthday party in Athens
Just a few days after the official celebrations for the Queen’s birthday in London the British Ambassador hosted a reception in his residence in Athens on the occasion. As soon as I received my invitation I knew that it would be difficult to match Queen Elizabeth’s bright, monochromatic outfits but I got close wearing a green patterned Marimekko dress. The guests, including politicians, diplomats, artists and journalists queued in front of the Ambassador’ s residence, an impressive mansion in the centre of Athens. The guest of honor was Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons, one of my favourite British actors, whom I got to greet and who recited Shakespeare’s sonnet 18, as well as some Henry V, commemorating Shakespeare’s 400 anniversary. His readings were definitely the highlights of the evening and Irons was simply astounding, to say the least. What is more, a number of events celebrating Shakespeare’s legacy have been scheduled by the British Council in Greece for theatre and literature lovers until September 2016: performances, screenings, talks and activities have been planned and are announced through their website under the title “Shakespeare Lives”.
The Equilibrists of Greece and Cyprus in the Benaki Museum
DESTE, one of the most important foundations of contemporary art in Greece collaborates with the New Museum of NYC and the Benaki Museum in Athens on the occasion of an exhibition that attempts to promote and present Greek emerging artists. The Equilibrists’ opening was packed, as expected, and although I arrived a bit late I managed to see the exhibition, which definitely deserves a second, more quiet and extended visit. Really interesting works of various media, including photography, video, sculpture, performance, drawing and painting, are presented.But the most important fact is the focus of the curators on young artists, in their midst 20 to midst 30, from Greece and Cyprus, who, despite the recession and the substantial lack of funding, sustain their creative sparkle through collaborative projects, ideas and platforms.
An unconventional collection, colours and violent veils
More interesting exhibitions are still on these days in Athens. In an old former warehouse in 4 Avramioutou street Dimitris Ioannou presents his latest solo exhibition titled “Laying Dormant”. Ioannou’s exhibition consists of micro collections and framed photographs of objects displayed on dexion shelves, in a dimly lit, black box basement. It certainly is one of the must see exhibitions in the city.
Additionally, in the Metaxourgeio area, Athens based artist the Dreamer inspired by Atopos’ latest publication and project redefines the neoclassical building of Atopos cvc using colour, pop patterns and screen printing. In the context of the exhibition the beautiful, more than a century old, building is transformed into a bright pastel dreamland that you have to visit.
On July 23rd another exhibition opens in Athens by Greek artist duet Kalos and Klio. Their new solo show under the title “Violent Silk” is hosted in Kalfayan Gallery and it includes a series of twelve, different veils made of silk. Though their colourful patterns and imagery their aesthetics is juxtaposed with the subjects of violence and violation of human rights in an original manner.