Art as remedy? Cultural work and the refugee “crisis”



Presentation and public discussion

with Paris Legakis, Marina Gioti, Petros Lales, Vilelmini Vilma Andrioti, Margarita Tsomou, Yorgos Moutafis, Evi Lampropoulou

October 24, 7pm
in the Athens Biennale, at Varvakeios Market, Athinas Street (opposite market building on top of the square)

Organized by AthenSYN and Avtonomi Akadimia with Athens Biennale

Avtonomi Akadimia, AthenSYN, and Athens Biennale organize an evening of presentations and a moderated public discussion on the role of art in the so-called “Refugee Crisis”. Artists will share their experiences and stories in this sensitive and challenging field. Demographic change, caused by the system we all live in, is a humanitarian catastrophe and simultaneously our only chance to create a society build on the essential understanding of our oneness. The discussion will be in English, the entrance is free and open to the public.

This evening is part of our project “Universitas” with artists from Greece, Syria and Germany, in which art meets the refugee movement and acts as the first step towards an education model exchanging the roles of “teacher” and “learner”, of immigrants and the host countries, through creating a collective multimedia writing of current history. It is initiated by Avtonomi Akadimia and AthenSYN and supported by Allianz Kulturstiftung.

Paris Legakis is a multidisciplinary artist, activist and theorist, born in 1981, Athens. In his work, he researches how art can be beneficial for the society and influential to politics. He has travelled to many different places worldwide conducting field researches and experimenting with different art practices of social engagement that aim to reveal different perspectives of everyday life and foster the idea of social change. In 2015, he completed the MA program Performance Studies, Tisch, NYU, where he was awarded for ‘Outstanding MA Work.’ In 2012, he finished the MFA program Public Art and New Artistic Strategies, Bauhaus University-Weimar, Germany and in 2009 he graduated from Athens School of Fine Arts. His projects have been presented internationally.

Marina Gioti is a filmmaker/ visual artist based in Athens. She studied Chemical Engineering, Environmental Management, Filmmaking, and Media and Communication in Greece, UK and Belgium. Her films and installations have been presented internationally at exhibitions and film festivals (Thessaloniki Biennial, Wroclaw Media Art Biennial, Transmediale, Viennale, Toronto International Film Festival). She has co-curated two exhibitions and curated programmes of experimental and documentary films for film festivals and independent screenings. She is currently in post-production for her first feature film, a documentary set in Cairo, in the period after the 2011 uprisings.

The action of Georgia Lale, #OrangeVest is a performance series in public space about the global refugee crisis. The piece was performed in NY, Washington D.C. and the European District in Brussels. The #OrangeVest action will be presented by the artist Petros Lales, who studied at the School of Fine Arts and officially represents the action in Europe. His works were shown at the Art Festival videos Zero, Kalamata, and the Art Festival Athens Video, Historical Archive PIOP, and Tsalapatas Museum of Volos. On October 1, he was in Brussels supervising the #OrangeVest performance by refugees and residents of Belgium at the European Parliament.

Vilelmini Vilma Andrioti is a political choreographer and activist. She studied Sociology, Dance, Drama; and her Master’s Research focuses on choreography and performance. As a founder of adult and of children’s theatre groups she expanded her understanding of community dance frameworks, training in and delivering inclusive performing arts workshops. In her last invitation by Sasha Waltz, as a visiting lecturer, she offered original insights into the field of “The body as a vehicle to activism” focusing on refugees issue. As an artistic director, she choreographed and directed in the support of refugees: “Open Border Parade”, “Safe Passage”, “No Mirror”, “Bordello of Borders”. Vilelmini coordinated a squat for 1600 refugees in Piraeus.

Giorgos Moutafis is an internationally awarded photojournalist and filmmaker and has documented the most severe humanitarian crises and conflicts in more than 20 countries all over the world covering Middle East,Balkans and Africa. He has been assigned and his work has been published in Newsweek, TIME, New Yorker, Courrier International,Polka,Spiegel, Guardian,Al Jazeera, CBS (60MINUTES), CNN, BBC among others. He has dedicated the last nine years to a long-term project on migration, focusing on the perilous European paths that migrants follow.

Evi Lampropoulou is the author of the novels “Happy-Loo”, “Hyper Super” and “All the apples”. She has been described both as modern and postmodern and believes in depicting her own era. Currently, she is writing a novel about ATHENS NOW. In 2010 she initiated the project “HEART, NOT SHOES”: she taught creative writing to Afghan juvenile refugees who entered Lesvos island without shoes, because she believes that people need to write more than they need shoes.

The discussion is moderated by Margarita Tsomou, Greek author, dramaturg and curator based in Berlin. She is the publisher of the pop-feminist magazine Missy-Magazine. Her artistic collaborations and curatorial projects have been shown at Volksbühne Berlin, Hebbel am Ufer Berlin, Kampnagel Hamburg, Maxim Gorki Theatre Berlin, Onassis Cultural Center Athens. She is part of the publishing collective books in Berlin and the activist/artistic group Schwabinggrad Ballett in Hamburg. Her focuses are queer-feminism, political implications of art, theory of democracy and the transformation of the Greek society during the debt crisis.

Avtonomi Akadimia is a free-access intercultural adisciplinary university in Athens founded by Berlin and Athens based artist Joulia Strauss.

AthenSYN is the initiative of a group of artists, curators and cultural agents, building an infrastructure and a network to foster the presentation of Greek contemporary art internationally, with focus on the exchange between Greece and Germany, founded by art critic and curator Sotirios Bahtsetzis and cultural scientist Katja Ehrhardt.

The Athens Biennale functions within an international network of large-scale periodic contemporary art events. It aims to be an agent of constant change and innovation, provide a context for creativity and dialogue and constitute a wide platform for the designation and the critical engagement of local artistic production, as well as a forum of discussion and exchange with the international scene.

(Photo: Paris Legakis, Artivists for Change, Thessaloniki 2013)

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