Activism and Art in Athens: The Case of the Mavili Collective
Lecture by Vassilis Noulas
I will present and discuss two examples of artistic activism that have occurred in the last years in Athens by the Mavili Collective.
On 11th of November 2011 Mavili occupied the historical disused theatre building of Embros, deserted and left empty for years. They aim to re-activate this space temporarily with their own means and propose an alternative model of collective management and new contemporary forms of creative work. For 11 days Mavili reconstituted Embros as a public space for exchange, research, debate, meeting and re-thinking.
On 20th of February 2014, the Greek Minister of Culture Mr. Panos Panagiotopoulos delivered the opening speech of the EU conference ‘Financing Creativity’ in Athens. This conference seeks to address models of cultural policy in the coming decades. Yet not a single artist was invited as a speaker nor was the conference promoted publicly. Mavili Collective called for artists from different fields of practice to attend the conference. Having been excluded from a dialogue about cultural policies the artists present publicly expressed their feelings regarding the proposed role of culture and laughed. The response of the Minister was revealing.
Antihumanist alternatives in recent art activism and performative experimentations: notes on the Greek case
Lecture by Kostis Stafylakis
My interest in today’s anti-humanist art activism in Greece is a consequence of a quest for modes of artistic action that may challenge various sociopolitical deadlocks that seem to define the momentum. And one of these deadlocks is what I understand as a moralization of the political sphere, a moralistic turn in today’s politics – a regression to humanistic depictions of Greek social strata and collective struggles. The most exemplar instantiation of this moralist deadlock is, I think, the perception of contemporary Greeks as a resisting Nation – the instantiation of some essential, trans-historical concept of the Greek as a primordial human essence fighting against his alienation. Cultural expressions, art (mainstream or underground), activism and resistance are also caught up in the haze of this humanist moralism. I think that, in the context of cultural practice, amidst the Greek crisis, the most delicate examples of an antihumanist art practice emerged out of the local queer scene. The proliferation of ideas about social gender and queer performativity, taking place during the last decade, enhanced a scepticist political stance that sees the questioning of ideological orthodoxies as the most urgent enterprise for radical politics and art.
‘Exerting Force in Opposition’: Predicaments of Art, Resistance and Social Usefulness
Lecture by Panos Kompatsiaris
Occupying a distinct territory within the Greek public sphere and beyond, the concept of ‘resistance’ currently seems to provide the organizing principle of any effort to articulate progressive politics. Variously understood either as subversive acts against concrete abstractions, such as capitalism, the state or the financial system, or as forms of localized, ground-level practices of community-building, eco-farming and grassroots activism, the notion of resistance is conceptualized as capable of disrupting, hijacking, undermining and potentially overturning the existing state of affairs. As an incitement to “exert force in opposition”, resistance usually implies not only a negative predisposition towards hegemonic politics but also the agential actualization of this predisposition in the form of rupturing and dissenting articulations. This presentation navigates through the tensions and conflicts inhabiting artistic performances claiming the territory of resistance where contested ideas of aesthetics and social usefulness unfurl.
Sound of Crisis
Performance by Maiden Monsters
In our project, “crisis” is transformed into faces, sounds, pictures – feelings. We let people tell their stories and structures to be unfold. How do people deal with the impact of “the” crisis? Their messages travel from person to person, from one region to the other by collecting and re-arranging their personal language, music and images into our live performance.
Our quest for the “sound of crisis” led us in 2013 to Portugal, Spain and France and recently, in September 2014, to Greece. There, we introduced ourselves in the home country of “the” crisis, into the gist of the matter! We aimed to talk to owners of shipping companies, soap manufactures but also recorded local musicians, researched alternative ways of living and joined their daily life. On site, we asked people: „What does the crisis sound like?“, „What does it look like?“ and „Where do we find it?“. Their statements guided us to places or other people that they identify with “crisis”. In these places, we recorded sounds and images before heading on to the next spot. In this way, we develop a musical-visual journey through Greece that is combined with the collected material from Spain, Portugal and France in a live performance.