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apexart :: Slower, Smaller, Weaker :: Giorgos Nikas and Alexandra Streshna
apexart - Athens, Greece
Slower, Smaller, Weaker
organized by Alexandra Streshna

May 12 - June 9, 2018

Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration (I.G.M.E.)
Spyridon Louis 1, C Entrance to the Olympic Village
Acharnes 13677, Athens, Greece


Opening Reception:
Saturday, May 12, 5-9 pm


Featuring work by:
Anastasia Douka
Arbit City Group
Campus Novel
Constantinos Hadzinikolaou
Kostas Bassanos
Marilena Aligizaki
Orestis Mavroudis
Paky Vlassopoulou

An Open Call exhibition.


venue on Google Maps


Resources:
brochure pdf
press release (english) pdf
press release (greek) pdf
images
checklist pdf
original proposal pdf
RELATED EVENTS:

Saturday, June 02, 2018, 5:00 - 8:00 pm
Short, Small, Weak Film Festival
This festival, programmed by Loukianos Moshonas and Alexandra Streshna, presents six short films that offer a glimpse into international and local contemporary cinema. .
 
EXHIBITION ESSAY:
The title Slower, Smaller, Weaker derives from the inverted Olympic motto, “Faster, Higher, Stronger,” and is charged with contradictory meanings. On one hand, it signifies the current decline of economic and social conditions across contemporary Greek society; on the other hand, it is allegorical and indicates the need to reflect upon and evaluate the impact of profit and competition-driven systems.

The exhibition takes place within the Olympic Village of Athens. The village, originally built to house the 2004 Olympic athletes, is now home to 2,500 low-income families. An isolated place abandoned by the state, its empty streets offer little evidence of public life. In contrast to the euphoria that encircled the village at the beginning of the millennium, it can now be seen to symbolize the failure of many national hopes. At the same time, it is a place where multiple volunteers and residents’ associations are self-organizing, offering an encouraging example of community mobilization.

Slower, Smaller, Weaker attempts to address the urgencies of public life within the Olympic Village and to disturb its isolation by initiating possibilities for encounters and public involvement. The exhibition features new works by eight Athens-based artists and artist groups, created in response to the curatorial theme.

Anastasia Douka presents Acharnai Seat, a sculpture that addresses the absence of functional public space in the Olympic Village, and residents’ attempts to create public seating with improvised constructions and solutions. There is a stark contrast between the uniform facades of the apartment blocks and the idiosyncratic character of the residents’ DIY public sitting solutions. These chairs, couches, stools, and armchairs are evidence of the social life unfolding inside the village houses, and they testify to the initial purpose of the village as an accommodation center for the 2004 Olympics, an in-between place.

For their Slower Smaller Weaker project, Arbit City Group displays documentation of a one-day workshop organized in the Olympic Village. For this participatory event, young locals were invited to co-design posters together with the group. These posters were then placed in public spaces across the Olympic Village. Critical and humorous, the content of these posters addresses residents’ relationships with their public space. Arbit City Group is a visual artist collective whose work humorously addresses issues of public space, political clashes, power structures, and institutional failure. Its member artists are: Manolis Daskalakis-Lemos, Dimitra Dimopoulou, Krini Dimopoulou, Natasa Efstathiadi, and Yiannis Mouravas.

Campus Novel is an artist group that focuses on the archaeology of the present by looking for new cultural signs. The title of their site-specific installation is Steeplechase/ the geography of track and field. In athletics, a steeplechase is an obstacle race historically named for the steeples that—being the most visible landmarks on the horizon—once marked the starting and finishing lines of every race. Along the way, runners had to jump various obstacles, such as stone walls and streams. The artists evoke the steeplechase in order to make connections to architectural and sports typologies. Their large-scale indoor installation, which is comprised of cement, wood, felt, and digital prints on paper, adapts the visual language of contemporary sports with demarcated lines and borders. The artists in Campus Novel are Giannis Cheimonakis, Giannis Delagrammatikas, Foteini Palpana, Yiannis Sinioroglou, and Ino Varvariti.

Constantinos Hadzinikolaou is a poetic forger. He appropriates existing fiction and nonfiction stories into his dreamlike works, where the real and the imaginary are confused, and his personal projections play a key role. For Hadzinikolaou, the recently built Olympic Village facilities, which have quickly become vandalized and abandoned, are a perfect setting for fictional and absurd characters. For Slower, Smaller, Weaker, he presents an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s humorous children’s book The Twits. In Hadzinikolaou’s version, The Idiots, the narrative becomes harsher. He places fictional anti-heroes in the Olympic Village, drawing a contrast with the elite, international super-athletes who lived there initially. The Idiots illustrates the desolation of the village’s empty streets, which are inhabited by stray dogs.

Kostas Bassanos's lyrical title Ανεμιαῖα ἠλέγχθησαν derives from Flavius Philostratus’ book Life of Apollonius of Tyana, written in approximately the beginning of the 3rd century A.D. The literal translation from this Ancient Greek phrase is “words carried away by the wind,” an idiom still used in everyday Greek to describe empty promises. Ανεμιαῖα ἠλέγχθησαν is a newly-commissioned sculpture comprised of eighteen flags placed on top of a single column. Each flag depicts a letter of the Ancient Greek phrase, which can be read as one walks around the sculpture. The circular reading of the text creates an impression of repetition, suggesting the persistence of a state that has no end. The flags, which still operate as symbols of domination and identity, are placed on a small, weak base made from materials collected from public spaces in the Olympic Village. The column’s composition refers to the geological stratification of urban debris, and makes direct reference to the exhibition venue, the Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration.

Marilena Aligizaki’s artistic practice is concerned with the relationship between sports and socio-economic realities, and in her recent research, she focuses on political aspects of the football phenomenon. The project includes video documentation of a particular football match that was in fact a participatory event organized by the artist. Participants of OFFENSE vs. DEFENSE are players of the self-managed Diogenis of Olympic Village football team. Together with the artist, the team established rules for a different kind of football game, which features new relations between the players, rejecting the traditional binary of the game. The ultimate purpose of this game is no longer simply to win, but to play, creating a collaborative experience that becomes an act of freedom.

Orestis Mavroudis’ project Olympic Village Art Park, is an attempt to transform public spaces of the Olympic village into a contemporary art park. The work consists entirely of labels that are placed in selected public spots and list the titles, materials, and dimensions of potential works. The labels are the result of the collaboration between the residents of the Olympic Village and the artist himself. Mavroudis’ role has been reduced only to producing the labels by following specific instructions. For the exhibition, the artist presents documentation of the project, as well as the map indicating the position of the labels throughout public spaces of the village. The whole body of labels reflects the expectations of many locals, commenting at the same time on the mechanisms of contemporary art practices, as well as on the relationship between the inhabitants of the village and public administration, which is based on unfulfilled promises and the absence of any concrete action.

Paky Vlassopoulou’s sculpture Pour, stir, dissolve, serve or march borrows from the structure of advertising boards and transforms them into items of clothing–costumes that are reminiscent of both a cooking apron and a picket sign. After visiting the Olympic Village Women’s Association, the artist was curious about what brought these women together, whether their meetings include characteristics of political self-organization, and whether a sewing class could put someone on the path of a protest. The resulting sculptural works are left in a state between formation and decomposition, revealing the fragile construction of monuments that later produce ruins.

The intention of Slower, Smaller, Weaker is to realize an exhibition within a community where such an event has never occurred before, and to attempt to approach people who don’t have easy access to cultural life of the city or contemporary art. Although its primary audience is the residents of the Olympic Village, it also aims to motivate Athenians to visit the isolated village, and raise awareness of its concerns.

Alexandra Streshna © 2018



Special thanks to the Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration (I.G.M.E.), whose generous donation of the primary exhibition venue is an exemplary manifestation of solidarity inside the village, as it provides a rare opportunity for artists in Greece to make interventions within restricted public spaces.

Special thanks to Giorgos Nikas, co-author of the original open call proposal for Slower, Smaller, Weaker, submitted to apexart in February 2017.

Alexandra Streshna (b. 1987, Lviv, Ukraine) is an Athens-based painter and independent curator. Instrumentalization of historical testimony, artificiality of fundamental truths, and the process of myth-making are some of the recurring themes in her practice. She studied at the Athens School of Fine Arts and received a master's degree in fine art from Central Saint Martins, London.

apexart’s program supporters past and present include The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Buhl Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Greenwich Collection Ltd., William Talbott Hillman Foundation/Affirmation Arts Fund, the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, the Fifth Floor Foundation, the Consulate General of Israel in New York, the Kenneth A. Cowin Foundation, the Trust for Mutual Understanding, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
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