Some Thoughts on Back to Athens 7, July 1 – 4, 2020, by Nicole Economides

Art Writing Contributing Writer Exhibition Greek Contemporary Artist Reviews and Books

Nicole Economides is a practicing artist and art historian, who also works as an archivist based in New York. She has a BFA from the University of Ioannina, Greece, and MFA from Parsons, The New School, New York. Her work reflects on the appropriation of Greek antiquity in Western culture and it’s romanticization throughout art history. Nicole splits her time between New York and Greece where she paints and participates in exhibitions and fairs.

Read on for her review of this exciting Athens-based art initiative!

This year’s Back to Athens art festival baring the title, μetaΑθήνα / pόστΑθενς, presented eleven curatorial projects. Works by over 100 artists and curators that worked around the concept of “contemporary Athens” were selected. Artists and curators alike, from the domestic and international art scenes, came together to present perspectives of the “new reality” imposed by the pandemic and the present socioeconomic circumstances.

Since the beginning of the recession in 2012 until today, Back to Athens was a fair built to unpack the concerns and expectations of artists and the public that unfold within the Athenian landscape. Back to Athens 7, 2020 took over the monumental 1950s building of 48 – 50 Aiolou street, which once served as small offices and workshops for local businesses. This year, artists, curators, art lovers and members of the community were brought together to discover and document the new reality of our times as dictated by the threat of the global pandemic. The fair aimed to provide insights and solutions for our collective, near future.

48-50 Aiolou Street, Athens, Greece.
Photo courtesy of the organizers of Back to Athens 7.

Each floor was meticulously curated to serve the history and aesthetic of the buildings’ architecture. The artists and curators combined mediums to create an interesting dialogue between painting, sculpture, installation, as well as new media.

Entrance to the event.
Photo courtesy of the organizers of Back to Athens 7

The fair took place at a time when the effects of the pandemic were deeply felt, and the government was methodically undermining the cultural sector and public expression. Thus, I found Back to Athens 7 to be especially relative to the current moment in Greece, and particularly Athens.

More specifically, on June 15th, the Greek Ministry of Education removed art subjects from the secondary education curriculum. This resulted in wounding cultural workers by implementing insufficient funding as a pandemic relief and excluding the majority of the sector from the programming of public festivals.

In addition to the cultural sector, on Thursday, July 9th, the Greek Parliament approved a bill that regulates street demonstrations, and thousands marched through central Athens to denounce it. This latter law was introduced by Greece’s conservative government in an attempt to regulate demonstrations which it alleges cause frequent disruptions to the public and affect commerce. The new rules imply aims of replacing a 1971 junta decree restricting rallies. Unionists and opposition parties accuse the government of acting preemptively to quash any opposition to possible fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. *

Thus, as the fear of the pandemic and of a second recession builds up within the city’s sun-scorched sidewalks, the general feeling that Back to Athens emphasized was that of social and political unsettlement. Even though the Back to Athens 7 fair did not speak to these issues directly, as they rapidly unfolded daily, the artworks on view did not occupy the space to decorate it or to improve its feng shui, but rather, to make all visitors ponder their position as viewers, creators, and citizens of Athens. It will be a strong calling that will echo in our conscience until next year.

Below you will find programming information and details about each exhibition floor of Aiolou 48 – 50:

Sausaging on / Weiterwurschteln / sinehizo na pilatevo / συνεχίζω να πιλατεύω
Curated by: Christian Rupp, co-curated with: Georg Georgakopoulos
Artists: Pablo Chiereghin-δεν είναι παρόν, Julius Deutschbauer, Aldo Giannotti, Christian Rupp, Elisabeth von Samsonow, Anna Khodorkovskaya, Babis Karalis.

Sausaging on / Weiterwurschteln / sinehizo na pilatevo / συνεχίζω να πιλατεύω.
Photo courtesy of the organizers of Back to Athens 7.
Sausaging on / Weiterwurschteln / sinehizo na pilatevo / συνεχίζω να πιλατεύω.
Photo courtesy of the organizers of Back to Athens 7.

New Ritual Society
Curated by: Katerina Nikolaou
Artists: Maria Varela, Eirini Vlavianou, Myrto Vratsanou, Yiannis Vogdanis, George Petsikopoulos, Lily Hassioti, Alexia Psaradeli

New Ritual Society. Photo courtesy of the organizers of Back to Athens 7.

BACK TO BASICS: The Alphabet
Fragment of an ongoing performance project
Concept, research, dramaturgy & choreography: Antonis Liveropoulos
Assistant: Adonis Vais, Costumes: Magda Kaloriti
Curated by: Ingo Starz

1st Floor:

Curated by: Pablo Chiereghin
Artists: Andrea Heyer, Peter Kraus, Miriam Laussegger, Sascha Alexandra Zaitseva.

Always Forever
At Phoenix Athens
Curated by: Dimitri Yin, Christina Makri
Artists: Ileana Arnaoutou, Anna Fafaliou, Dimitri Yin, Lee Wells

At A – DASH Project Space
Curated by: Noemi Niederhauser (A – DASH member)
Artists: Campus Novel, Theo Prodromidis, Sigurður Atli Sigurðsson and Leifur Ýmir Eyjólfsson, Chrysanthi Koumianaki & Fanis Kafantaris, Talc Design Studio, Benjamin Cohen, Kristin Rúnarsdóttir, Ben Callaghan & Mica Warren, Jennifer Niederhauser-Schlup.

Photo courtesy of the organizers of Back to Athens 7.

Curated by: Ioli Katsarou
Artists: Ioli Katsarou, Vasiliki Koukou, Alexandros Douras, Elpida Frageskidou, Christiana Vardakou

2nd Floor:

Beast on a Diet
Curated by: Nina Kotamanidou, Eleftheria Alexandri
Artists: Vangelis Agnantopoulos, Eleftheria Alexandri, Stavros Valkanis, Andromachi Giannopoulou, Patricia-Eugenia Deliyannis, Tati Douvana, Eleni Glinou, Nina Kotamanidou, Chryssa Lambracopoulou, Dorina Malliou, Fryni Mouzakitou, Michail Parlamas, Christos Ponis, Gm Touliatou, Vassilis Fiorentzakis.

3rd Floor:

Sandbox House
Curated by: Galini Lazani
Assistant curator: Aias Christofis
Artists: Manolis Baboussis, Pythagoras Chatziandreou, Petros Efstathiadis, Anna Fafaliou, Ismene King, Nikolaos Komiotis, Alexios Papazacharias, Dimitris Polychroniadis, Zoe Sklepa, Giorgos Tserionis, Katerina Zacharopoulou.

4th Floor:

Man: Between Power and Fragility
Curated by: Stratis Pantazis
Artists: Paolo Incarnato, Thalia Kerouli, Dimitris Skourogiannis, Evangelia Topa

Living in Tutorian Times
Back Space
Artwork by: Eleanna Balesi
Curator: Katerina Botsari

Living in Tutorian Times.
Photo courtesy of the organizers of Back to Athens 7.

Breaths Independent Artists
Curated by: Fotini Kapiris
Artists: Dimosthenis Bogiatzis, Pirro Caridha, Thomas Diotis, Nicole Economides, Marion Fischer, Sotiris Fokeas, Vasilis Galanis, Dimitris Kontodimos, Marilena Kranioti, Kostas Lales, Natalia Manta, Kleopatra Tsali, Panagiotis Voulgaris.

Breaths Independent Artists.
Photo courtesy of the organizers of Back to Athens 7.

5th Floor:

A sound installation by: Robert Mathy
Curated by: Johannes Rips

Back to Athens 7, 2020
48-50 Aiolou str., 105 60 Athens

Back to Athens 7 Curatorial team:
Georg Georgakopoulos, Fotini Kapiris, Christian Rupp
Opening day: Wednesday, July 1, 16:00 -22:00
Visiting hours: Thursday 2.07, Friday 3.07, 16:00 – 21:00 Saturday 4.07, 12:00 – 21:00

* source e-kathimerini, link here.

We would like to thank the organizers of Back to Athens for their photography contribution to this article.

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