The podcast series »about, by, through, towards, despite« follows an experimental, free approach to audio formats. Produced in late 2020 and early 2021, these eight episodes were recorded in conditions of social distancing and encompass sound papers, audio lectures, and performative readings. Commissioned for p o s t documenta: contemporary arts as territorial agencies, this series aims to provide a multilayered imprint of the local, independent Athens art scene in the aftermath of documenta14.
In »Questions of Form and Scale: Mutations of artistic practice in a landscape of crisis and the possibilities for destituent institutions«, Gigi Argyropoulou suggests that the making of spaces has been an integral practice in the artistic scene of Athens, at least during the last decades. This making of spaces functioned at some times as a mode of contesting dominant practices, and at other times as a practice of collectively exploring the possibilities of cultural practice in the here and now. Through concrete cases that took place at different historical moments, Gigi elaborates on the possibilities of destituent spaces – or even destituent institutions – today, and how such functional and imaginative formations might operate.
Orestis Mavroudis and Despina Krey of CURRENT Athens present their online platform for the promotion of contemporary art. Since they established their project in 2017, their main objective has been to inform users about the Athens art scene through a horizontal and inclusive approach. currentathens.gr operates independently and remains an invaluable resource as a freely accessible online database with information on spaces, artists, and curators that have exhibited in the city from 2017 until now.
In Mutings, Mutations, a Hypothesis & a Gasp.Thinking (out loud, in Athens) about art and institutions, Alkisti Efthymiou wonders whether it is possible for a woman to find her natural voice within the institutional frameworks of the western art world. Discussing her long-running involvement with large-scale cultural institutions in Greece, she explores the inherent tensions between feminist and institutional practices, shedding light on the affective realities of working in the art field. Through metaphors derived from Chilean filmmaker Raúl Ruiz’s film, »The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting« (1978), Alkisti talks about exhaustion and identity crisis, and potential lines of flight.
Artist-run project spaces have been flourishing in Athens during the last decade. Following a do-it-yourself/do-it-with-others logic, these highly differentiated, flexible, and responsive initiatives form a vibrant cultural ecosystem. In the episode »Of spaces and artists: artist-run spaces in Athens«, curator Danai Giannoglou (Enterprise Projects) and artist Kosmas Nikolaou (3 137) draw from their experiences as co-founding and active members of artist-run project spaces to discuss their role and related issues of labor, outreach, and sustainability.
A very important and particular part of the Athens art scene is populated by the queer arts communities. Queer visual artist and filmmaker Vassiliki Lazaridou’s podcast »My Band is a Coven« pays tribute to these communities that craft their shape into existence through creative processes of mutual empowerment and caregiving. Featuring original music by Bitchy 101, the Athens-based queer pop punk band that Vasiliki is part of, »My Band is A Coven is inspired by the group exhibition COVEN: witchcraft for love politics«, curated by Vassilia Kaga and Caterina Stamou, which will take place within 2021 at the Feminist Autonomous Centre for Research.
Structured around the question »How do we live together in sickness and in health?« Myrto Katsimicha’s soundpaper draws inspiration from Hippocrates’ »On Airs, Waters, and Places,« and our current condition. In a sense, as we cannot separate the ways we think and feel, as well as the ways we experience the world around us, from the places where we live and work, we are indeed the people of our times. Myrto’s contribution offers a temporal and spatial perspective of the conditions under which the Athenian art community constantly evolves, in the form of seven notes on lived experiences as a cultural worker in Athens.
In his podcast »The de-publicized territory: Institutions and territorial policies« Theophilos Tramboulis revisits recent examples from the cultural field in Greece to critically examine the intersection of contemporary arts and territorial policies. He argues that territorial materiality is always related to issues of authenticity and identity, at least in the Greek context. Discussing the cases of the Thessaloniki Metro archaeological excavations, the new reinforced concrete constructions on the Acropolis, and the frantic online production and dissemination of art content during the pandemic, he criticizes the policies of major cultural foundations as increasingly instrumentalizing contemporary art, placing it at the service of a broader political agenda that includes an ever-expanding deterritorialization and privatization of the public sphere.
»Creative Leisure«, a podcast by writer and curator Evita Tsokanta, starts with the observation and comparison of leisure activities in the public space of Leipzig and Athens. It is an exploration of how leisure has been defined in the past, the way in which it is socially determined, and how it is currently being repositioned during the new conditions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the massive changes in working conditions worldwide. By applying Thorstein Veblen’s theory of conspicuous leisure and consumption, it attempts to demonstrate the distinction between the leisure class and the creative class and how the two have been connected historically and occasionally even confused as interchangeable.
*The title of the series is inspired by Harald Szeemann’s introduction to the catalogue raisonné of his exhibitions (Bezzola T., Kurzmeyer R. (Eds), Springer: Vienna, 2007).
»about, by, through, towards, despite« is a podcast series on different aspects of the independent Athens art scene. Ten different “agents,” artists, curators, and critics who are active in the local scene, were invited to contribute their thoughts, experiences, and critical positions, each with a different focus: Gigi Argyropoulou, Orestis Mavroudis & Despina Krey (CURRENT Athens), Alkisti Efthymiou, Danai Giannoglou (Enterprise Projects) & Kosmas Nikolaou (3 137), Vassiliki Lazaridou, Myrto Katsimicha, Theophilos Tramboulis, and Evita Tsokanta.
Conceived as an open-ended experiment, the project is open to further sumbissions by local „agents“ of the Athens art scene throughout 2021. You may get in touch with us through email at: firstname.lastname@example.org