In the framework of the Pre-Opening Events 2006-2008 of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, the EMST organises a Grand Cultural Promenade around the streets of Athens. It is the first of the two large scale international exhibitions that will take place in view of the completion of its permanent premises in the middle of 2008. The Grand Promenade, curated by Anna kafetsi, will last until September, 29th.
The idea of the exhibition was born from the close proximity of EMST to the archaeological sites and monuments of Athens that offers us a possibility of various transcultural communication networks between antiquity and contemporary international art.
The title of the exhibition refers to the Grand Promenade of the Unification of Archaeological Sites, a huge urban intervention around the Acropolis and creates an “open” museum where the rich cultural heritage is intersected with the capitals daily life and its multicultural reality. As experience and metaphor the Grand Promenade allows unexpected encounters and ties, stories within History, new relationships between the local and the universal, and an open conceptual narrative incorporating the Elsewhere and the Others.
In the exhibition participate 44 artists from around the world with recent works or with in situ commissions of the Museum, which will be presented along the archaeological Grand Promenade and adjacent public and private buildings.
The works that are presented in the various exhibition venues are in dialogue with the natural and architectural beauty, with mythology, history and the contemporary social reality of sites and buildings, and in harmony with the atmosphere that each one of these radiates.
Some of the notions touched upon by the works in the exhibition, are the relations between the public and the private, fiction and reality, memory, the landscape and history, the dream and the journey, the community, democracy, utopia, multiculturalism, migration, the City.
Where can I find these works?
Opposite the New Acropolis Museum, the visitor will encounter the first work of the exhibition, of the Palestinian artist Khalil Rabah. Rabah’s installation represents a museum, the New Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind. Its building, like a real Museum in miniature, consists of rooms of permanent collections, a room of documentation and projections. It’s a nomadic museum, which was presented for the first time in 2004 in Ramallah, in 2005 in Rome and Istanbul and in 2006 in Amsterdam and Athens, this time under the title The New Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind. With basic theme and concept the sacred olive tree, this monumental work opens a dialogue with the memory, the history of the Attic land and the common anthropological background of the people of the Mediterranean.
Along the Grand Promenade, the visitor will discover the sound installations of Steve Roden, Susan Philipz and Pavel Büchler, sculptures like those of Ulrich Rückriem and Anish Kapoor, as well as the work of the Iranian artist Y. Z. Kami, in the Roman Agora, which refers to the sufism of the 13th century mystic Iranian poet Rumi.
Dimitris Pikioni’s historical formation of the archaeological sites around Acropolis, during the 1950s, is also presented as an exhibit of the Grand Promenade. Pikioni’s work is based on the architecture of motion and memory, which the visitor experiences as he/she walks amidst a giant “collage” of marble and clay pieces that retrieve memories of 19th century demolished Athens.
In the strongly imbued by the political and artistic personality of Melina Mercouri, building of the Melina Mercouri Foundation, political and social documents appear as fictional, in the works of the Turkish artist Gülsün Karamustafa and the Lebanese Fouad Elkoury, while in the familiar artistic venue of the Graduate Association of Fine Arts Students, fiction is displayed as historical reality in the work of Michael Blum. In other rooms, the Polish artist Pawel Althamer will reconstruct, in a daily performance, the relationship between the artist and his model. Next, on the façade of the building of the University of Indianapolis, Athens Campus, (former Goulandri Horn Foundation), the visitor will come upon Per Barclay’s photographic installation For Dionysos (Laura and Tomo – Montalcino).
Farther away, a series of new ethereal paintings by Silke Otto-Knapp and a serene sound installation by the American Steve Roden elevate the intrinsic and full of memories space of the Turkish Baths.
Another in situ installation that has been positioned in Thisseio, near-by the ancient road of Panathenea, is Neen Plateau, a collaboration between three Greek artists, Andreas Angelidakis, Miltos Manetas and Angelo Plessas, members of the international group Neen.
The artists will display three different works put together, creating a platform for discussion, laying questions such as what is a city in the internet era, what is a promenade in an age of continuous communication, what is an exhibition and what is the Neen movement.
Right across, in front of Thisseion park, has been installed the mystic work of Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, The Falling Angel.
Next, the visitor will come across the building of the Association of Greek Archaeologists, where the in situ installation of Christian Boltanski, the installations of Janine Antoni and George Hadjimichalis, the sculpture and the drawings of Wolfgang Laib deal in a poetical and reflective way with ancient and contemporary myths, and notions like death, time, human fate, light and darkness.
In the last section of the exhibition, at the “Technopolis” of the City of Athens, will be displayed, in four of the buildings of the former industrial complex, works by Thomas Hirshchorn and Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, that deal with subjects like philosophy, politics, democracy and community. Swiss Thomas Hirshchorn presents an installation titled U – Lounge, using in the title only the initial letter of the word Utopia and creating a space for poetry, philosophy, art, for a mutual universal prosperity.
His aim is to connect utopia with reality and to create a space in which any distance between these two concepts will have been eliminated. The German Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, with his film the Cave of Memory, motivated by the myth of the platonic cave, penetrates into great moments of the European civilization, referring to the works of Goethe, Mozart, Kleist, Beckett. In the works of a great number of artists that are hosted in the “Technopolis”, such as Ghada Amer, Santiago Sierra, Andrian Paci, Vlassis Caniaris, Yu Hong, Julie Mehretu, Lina Theodorou and others, are investigated subjects that are related to socio-political issues such as the female identity, the city as a multicultural metropolis, migration, xenophobia, the contemporary reality of Greece etc.
Andreas Angelidaki’s video installation Walking Building could be the last work of the exhibition. On the opening night the work will be projected upon the Fix building, on Syngrou Avenue.
PERFORMANCES AND PROJECTIONS IN THE GRAND PROMENADE
A Public Sculpture, 2006: During the opening of the exhibition, on July 17th, John Kapellos’ sculpture, positioned at the junction of Agia Marina and Apostolou Pavlou street, will be destroyed. The destroyed sculpture will remain at this location for the duration of the exhibition.
On the opening night, the work of Andreas Angelidakis, Walking Building (2006) will be projected on the Fix building, on Syngrou Avenue. The projection is made possible with the kind support of Olympic Airlines
Matea, 2006: Pawel Althamer will make an act – study from nature. This sculpture will be the effect of a research-process that will be held in Athens, and will be made during the artist’s stay here. The public can visit him at the studio, following an appointment, during his working hours. During the artist’s stay a documentary film from the process of making of this sculpture, will be filmed and photographs will be taken. Afterwards, the film and the photographs will be presented with the sculpture in the studio.
In the name of Neen (Neen Baptism), 2006:At the Neen Plateau Miltos Manetas will present the Neen Baptism, a project that involves baptizing the passerby to the name of Neen.Days and hours of baptism: Τuesday to Saturday: 17.00-19.00, Thursday: 17.00-22.00, Sunday: 11.00-13.00 and 17.00-19.00, Monday closed
3 Voices, 2006: (series of invitations, transmissions and events) – Guided tour aboard the tourist train that plies the route around the Acropolis, July 18th 2006, 8 p.m (point of departure, Aiolou and Adrianou street). – A talk by the historian, G. Margaritis on the battle for Makrygianni Street during the Dekemvriana, the opening phase of the Greek civil war in December 1944, and a reading of texts describing the city in a state of war, July 19th 2006, 8 p.m, at GAFAS. – Conversation with local residents around Gazi in collaboration with the Nomadic Architecture Network, July 20th 2006, 8 p.m, at “Technopolis”.
On the full moon night of August 9th, a midnight projection will take place at the outdoor movie theatre Thisseio (7 Apostolou Pavlou street) of Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, The Cave of Memory (1997)
The catalogue of the exhibition as well as all of ΕΜST’s publications are available for sale at the museum shop in Techonopolis. The catalogue will also be sold at the ΙΑΝΟS bookshop (Athens and Thessaloniki), the art store of the Benaki Museum and the bookshop of the National Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation. The Grand Promenade, Εditor: Anna Kafetsi, Bilingual (Greek / English), Available for sale: price 15 euro.