FORGET ‘SURVIVOR’… How about surviving through April 8 in Athens, in an urban art jungle? Because here’s the ultimate challenge: to see all of the documenta 14 art events taking place that day (on its inauguration), plus the other ‘special’ events that have been planned independently in order to celebrate or even comment on documenta 14. Documenta 14 has 25 events on April 8, another event – the Gallery Walk – has around 40, and there are many others… It sounds like the whole city will be overtaken by art of all sorts and forms, with more being added all the time.
So, here are some of the highlights of documenta 14 on April 8: Prinz Gholam’s performance at the Temple of Olympian Zeus entitled ‘My Sweet Country’ sounds intriguing, as does Sanja Ivekovic’s ‘Monument to Revolution’ at Avdis Square. But it’s probably Marta Minujin’s performance ‘Payment of the Greek Debt to Germany with Olives and Art’ at EMST (4pm), that will pull the crowds. Then there are other performances all over the place: eg. at the Archaeological Museum of Piraeus, at EMST, at the Athens Conservatoire, and food becomes part of an art performance at Rasheed Araeen’s project which is feeding the masses on Kotzia Square.
But hang on, now the Athens Biennale is going to feed the masses too, at the Bageion Hotel in Omonoia, (on April 5-6), in an art/food project by the The Domestic Godless (an Irish art group dedicated to exploring the potential of food ‘as a vehicle for irreverent artistic endeavour and experimentation’. The 6th Athens Biennale is entitled ‘Waiting for the Barbarians’, and which Barbarians they are talking about exactly, is open to suggestion and discussion of course. Although there are some tongue-in-cheek suggestions of course.
And how about the shows that are commenting on documenta 14 in some way or another: eg. ‘You are withholding secrets and documenta’, at the Agathi Kartalos, or the 30 artists at the kaplanon5 gallery who have created works which further the dialogues and themes expanded by documenta 14. Then there’s Maria Lassnig’s show at the Municipality of Athens Gallery, where this Austrian artist has definitely learnt a few things from Athens (documenta 14’s theme is ‘Learning from Athens’).
So here’s a suggested plan, for those who want the ultimate art overload. Best to do each district seperately: You can start with central Athens (Syntagma/Syngrou), with some documenta 14 events and the Gallery Walk. However, consider also that the Deste Foundation’s new shows at the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art (‘Deste Prize: An Anniversary Exhibition (1919-2015)’ and at the Benaki Museum (‘Liquid Antiquity’), are also now running in central Athens (both on Vass. Sophias Avenue).
If you’re heading towards Lassnig, then consider that the Benaki Pireos (where you can see Christos Bokoros’ show) and the Benaki-Mentis (where you can see Maria Loizidou’s show), are also close by, so that’s another trip entirely.
Then there’s ‘Nowhereland’: Comprising 18 contemporary artists (ranging from Thomas Schutte and Yoko Ono to Maria Papadimitriou and Dionisis Kavallieratos). The show will welcome the public from 5pm-8pm on April 8, complete with live Ambient tunes, at 34 Perikleous Street (Syntagma).
And here’s another suggestion: how about kicking off this art explosion with something more traditional for some counterbalance, before you catapult yourself into contemporaneity? How about a talk by National Gallery Director and Professor Emeritus of Art History, Mrs Marina Lambraki-Plaka? She will be giving a guided tour of the current show ‘By the Sea: Sea Themes in Neohellenic Painting’ at the Theocharakis Foundation at 11am (also on Vass. Sophias Ave.):
Comprising 74 outstanding seascapes, this show brings together most of the acclaimed Greek painters from the 19th century up to the near present that have tackled this subject. The exhibition’s journey through the seas of Greek art starts with the more traditional and academic painters, moves on to the modernists and ends with the contemporaries, and comprises works from four collections: Greece’s National Gallery and the E. Koutlides Foundation, the Ministry of Culture and the Sotiris Felios Collection. If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t miss it. It’s definitely one of the best shows this year, that can be enjoyed by all, with some real gems from the history of Greek art. Plus, Lambraki-Plaka’s talks (in Greek), are always so enlightened, poetic and inspiring. (Entrance: 8 euros. The exhibition runs till May 7).
As you can see, this is a Herculean art trek. So on second thoughts… why not just take your time, and enjoy! After all, there’s always ‘avrio’ as they say… and that’s definitely something you learn in Athens, and not only… ‘Maniana’ therefore, because we’re only human.
- Photos (top to bottom): Work by Maria Lassnig; the Domestic Godless team; the Deste Prize; work by Christos Bokoros; seascape from the Theocharakis exhibition.