Monday, October 20, 2014

The story of the National Museum of Contemporary art, Athens

Could you imagine that in a European country, the inauguration of a national museum could be delayed, just because the wife of a powerful banker desperately wants to be it's director? Even if she has absolutely no relation or experience in contemporary art? Banks of course rule the world, especially a country like Greece, whose citizens have been subjected to poverty in order to save the banks.

This is what became clear today at the press conference held at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens, even though the director, Mrs Anna Kafetsi, never said anything directly about the Board of Directors or Mrs Staikou, wife of Mr Sallas, owner of the largest bank group in Greece, Piraeus bank.

Mrs Kafetsi just stated the facts: The museum has not opened because the board does not sign the release, even if Mrs Kafetsi managed to find all the funding needed. The board took 10 months to accept the said funds, 3M Euros from Niarchos Foundation, though if they are not used within 2 months they will expire, like they did last year.

Another reason that the board does not sign the acceptance of the building, is that in the curatorial plan for the first show of the permanent collection, Mrs Kafetsi moved a work from the 3rd to the 2nd floor, and also added to recent donation. The board did not sign for the opening of the building, because the curatorial plan they had asked Mrs Kafetsi to submit for their approval in February of 2012, was not absolutely identical to the one she re-submitted in 2013.

Today at the crowded and emotional press conference, a lot of journalists were present. Some of them were whispering that their papers would never allow them to publish anything against Mrs Staikou, because Piraeus Bank indirectly controls most of the traditional media.
Today, a rumor is circulating that Mrs Staikou resigned from the Board of Directors, and many were saying that this is just so that she can be eligible for the position of director. Even though her previous cultural experience was a Museum of Olive oil that her husbands' bank opened for her.
And the only person who is trying to stop this is a woman, bound to a wheelchair, who has be fighting for 14 years to secure this museum a permanent home.

Sorry for the rant, but it is discouraging to feel powerless and at the mercy of exactly the same type of corruption that has brought Greece at it's current state of perpetual crisis. And Mrs Kafetsi needs as much support as ever at this critical point. If not, we will have a worthless museum of contemporary art. In short a museum with a fate similar to the fate these interests have secured for Greece.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Short visit to Zvi Hecker's Ramot Polin housing. For Eternal Internet Brotherhood #3

This year's Eternal Internet Brotherhood was placed in the West Bank. The nature of this brotherhood was nomadic and exploratory, given the fascinating context. So as my contribution I proposed a visit to Zvi Hecker's Ramot Polin housing from 1972.

Ramot Polin is a curious example of the Metabolist doctrine, as it got translated by the great Zvi Hecker, at the beginning of his career. It is curious not because of the way he designed it, but because of the way it evolved. Metabolist architecture was the promise of buildings as living organisms, buildings that through their modularity could continue to grow after their first stage of construction.

 Ramot Polin, located in northeast Jerusalem, did continue to grow, but not as the architecture intended. The residents modified their housing units, replacing the dodecahedron architecture with cubes, trading their polygon windows for parallelepipeds. They added balconies, awnings, external staircases.

The great irony is that this avant garde architecture is today inhabited by a community of Haredi, a group ultra Orthodox Jewish families,

who found themselves living in this ultra unorthdox building

  but none the less proceeded to make it their own

today it is a perfect example of user customization

And one might say that user customisation is what the internet is all about.

So is this a Metabolist Internet building?

A post Metabolist internet hood?

We visited the inside of an apartment, and the explanation for the modification was simple.
"I changed the window so I could put things on it".
"you should come in winter, to see how beautifully it leaks"

leaking is of course the sign of any truly great building

Ramot Polin is great for both its original design and how it evolved

 a curious stack of modified slabs with a dodecahedron skin
 an artificial rock amidst the biblical landscape of East Jerusalem
after touring we sat down 
and all the little kids who had been following us approached

apparently their religion does not allow for pets, and they were so fascinated by Lupo that they did not want to let us go.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Group Mountain

Group Mountain was a solo show turned into an exhibition device. Originally meant to be an installation of Domesticated Mountain, a mountain of shipping boxes and a video on the non-future of architecture in the time of online living.

Then we decided to turn the installation into an exhibition, by installing works inside the shipping boxes.  

Uwe Henneken, Shirana Shahbazi

Yorgos Lazongas

 Bjarne Melgaard and Danai Anesiadou
 Antonis Donef, Danai Anesiadou, Jim Lambie

 Paola Revenioti, Alan Michael

Gert & Uwe Tobias, Alexandros Jannis

Angelo Plessas, Gert & Uwe Tobias,  Paola Revenioti

Kostis Velonis

Kostis Velonis, Jannis Varelas, Vlassis Kaniaris

The mountain extended onto two floors of the gallery space, its hollow inside turned into video room

Group Mountain
featuring works by Danai Anesiadou, Vlassis Caniaris, Kate Davies, Antonis Donef, Uwe Henneken, HOPE, Jim Lambie, Yiorgos Lazongas, Bjarne Melgaard, Alan Michael, Irini Miga, Angelo Plessas, Paola Revenioti, Shirana Shahbazi, Christiana Soulou, Gert & Uwe Tobias, Alexandros Tzannis, Jannis Varelas, Kostis Velonis.
thanks to the following companies: Move Art, Orphee Beinoglou, UPS, Logika, Nail2Nail
 Special thanks to Sotiris Vasiliou and Alexandra Syriou, studio Angelidakis

Monday, March 25, 2013

Future Acropolis Museum

Recently, in the context of the AHO RESTORE studio I'm teaching with Espen Vatn on Alteration as a critical device, I had the chance to hear Christos Papoulias describe his seminal, critical, independent to the myriad competitions proposal for an Acropolis Museum in Athens.

Christos described the rock and it's many phases as atemporal, eternal.
the proposal focuses on a now invisible gap between two of the holy rocks' phases, the Mycenaean and the Classical 5th century AD, when the rock was significantly expanded to it's current retaining wall.
one of the excavations in the early 20th century uncovered the gap between the two walls
the gap is now only visible through a series of shafts left by the archaeologists. Those shafts and the now buried gap between the two retaining walls of the acropolis became the site for Christos Papoulias' proposal.

the walls of his museum would be the originally visible base 17m high base of the parthenon. 
the floor would mimic the roughly poured concrete that the archaeologists have long used to make the slippery rock accesible by visitors. It is a material that Papoulias suggest will look old even when its new.

the area of the museum would inhabit the south and south east part of the acropolis plateau
while remaining entirely below the ground surface

the museum
the floor of the museum would be a series of carefully placed platforms

 the interior of the museum is entirely made of the walls and ground already existing on the parthenon. the space would allow one solitude with the statues, a bridge of time.


the scaleless space is gigantic, with 17m high ceilings
inside the gap

the existing shafts together with a few additions would bring light down into this Erichthonean space

roof plan with southern slope antiquities

the museum would be visible only through it's entrance. And would offer an exit down to the south side of the acropolis hill, through one of the existing caves. One would exit onto the slope and visit the fascinating but mostly overlooked by tired tourists theater of Dionysus and other sites.
Christos finished his presentation by suggesting that this museum would certainly not be built in his lifetime. But lets hope Greece evolves up to that task at some point in a better future.
The drawings from The Erichthonean Museum belong to the collection of the Pompidou Center in Paris.
(the project was last presented at the 3rd Athens Biennial, Monodrome)