Friday, May 29, 2015

Whilst the art scene in the Greek capital has always been very dynamic and diverse, since the outbreak of the crisis in 2008 it has been going through a series of core changes that have in effect brought a renaissance to the contemporary metropolitan art scene.

The impressive flourish of commercial galleries of the previous decade has been followed by a flight of artists towards non-profit public spaces or artist-run collectives in order to showcase artworks emphasizing the need for social change through creativity.

"Athens today reminds me of London in the 1980s, when there was no  art market," Whitechapel Gallery director Iwona Blazwick says to the Guardian. "Back then, if you couldn’t get a show at the ICA, you’d make your own. That's what they’re doing in Athens – creating their own platforms for a new generation." Blazwick has curated the group show Terrapolis which brings together Athenian artists and an assembly of international heavyweights, all in the shadow of both ancient and modern ruins of Athens.

Public Space Art
  • Terrapolis exhibition @Athens French School
Terrapolis is an outdoor art project organized by NGO NEON and the Whitechapel Gallery, set in the garden of the French archaeological institute in Athens, running from May 26 to July 26). Contemporary sculptures, installations and films seek to suggest a 'bioethics' for the 21st century. Dimitris Daskalopoulos, founder of the non-profit cultural organisation Neon, who initiated the show, hopes Terrapolis will move Greek society forwards. "Art can stimulate our collective consciousness. It can help us find new direction."

See also Greek News Agenda: Discovering the National Garden Project
  • Depression Era Collective
The art collective Depression Era, founded in 2011, has taken to transforming into art decaying public spaces in the wake of the crisis.

It also organizes educational initiatives and calls upon young artists to create an artistic archive of the crisis, contributing to the understanding of the social, economical and historical transformation currently taking place in Greece. The collective brings together 36 artists, photographers, writers, curators, designers and researchers.

See also: Nomadic Architecture Network
  • Mural Movement
Street art has a tendency to pop up in dire times, and Athens’ explosive street art movement has been heavily influenced by social unrest and the urge for social change.

A generation of politically-minded artists have turned public spaces into canvas, including artists like Manolis Anastasakos, whose artwork “is a metaphor for all the financially devastated countries all over the world,” INO’s haunting murals, Stelios Faitakis’ byzantine influenced political allegories, and many more anonymous graffiti artists.

See also The Guardian: Contemporary graffiti art on the walls of Athens – in pictures, Athens Street Art Festival
  • Galleries
The emergence of artist-run galleries is emerging as an answer to commercial galleries in times of financial crisis. Galleries like 3137 and State of Concept in the centre of Athens aspire to showcase young artists and operate as a space for free artist consultation.

See also: Afterall on-line: Beyond the Crisis: On Greece’s Burgeoning Art Scene