The Greek Crisis’s Silver Lining: The Athens Art Scene is Thriving

AUGUST 1, 2012 published at
As sometimes happens when economies disintegrate, the arts in Athens are thriving. As the Guardian recently reported, more exhibits, art events, and performances have emerged independent of commercial enterprises. Freed from relying on wealthy backers, artists in the Greek capital now look for temporary spaces and empty shops over more permanent and costly venues. There are now more than 50 nonprofit art collectives that collaborate across the Athens scene, resulting in some innovative new projects that respond to the collapse and look to the rebirth of the city and its economy.

The Nomadic Architecture Network, for instance, organized a project titled “Il Camino Commune” that incorporated writing and songs to map the city, and is currently organizing a research project on how art can assist Athens in its transformation and recovery. The Reconstruction Community used sound for another alternative cartography of Athens, and their organization has an ongoing open call for any artists or other creative individuals who “are encouraged to propose site specific actions in various areas of the city, which can reveal aspects of an unknown or less visible social reality.”

There are also independent galleries organizing city-wide events, with Contemporary Art Meeting Point (CAMP) holding a festival earlier this year that installed art in businesses and restaurants in the center of Athens, and Kappatos Gallery staging a three-week-long event to exhibit emerging artists in 30 hotel rooms across the Kolonaki district.

In addition to engaging local artists into an active network, the Athens art world has seen the arrival of more international artists. Among them is the Edinburgh-based Greek artist Augustus Veinoglou, whose Snehta network allows artists to spend three months in Athens while they create work responding to the city, which is then exhibited in the suburb of Kypseli. With all of these initiatives, the arts in the city have become a vital force in instigating some positive approaches to supporting Athens amidst Greece’s economic crisis.

— Allison Meier


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