Thursday, August 30, 2012

TROLLCASINO and the proposal for a Cottage Economy Future, close-up

For our participation in MADEINATHENS at the Greek Pavilion in the 13th Venice Biennial, We decided to study two iconic modernist buildings in Athens. Each of those buildings represents a side of the current two-fold crisis engulfing the city: The Civic side of the crisis is represented by the housing block Chara, and the Economic side by the luxury resort and casino of Mont Parnes.

The housing block, startlingly different from it's surrounding cheap and profit driven pseudo-modernist polykatoikies decides the city is no longer a friendly environment, and decides one day to leave, perhaps mirroring the immigrants who now leave Greece for their countries and the Greeks taking off in search of better fortunes elsewere. (Athens took it's current shape during a mass internal migration from the 1950s and onwards, when Greeks from every corner of the WWII and Greek Civil War ravaged country moved to Athens for jobs and modern comforts. This was followed by a wave of financial immigrants from Eastern Europe, North Africa and Asia that began in the 1990s.)
The video and installation narrates the story of the building, while going off in the theoretical future scenario of it's transformation into an inhabitable mountain.

The casino was built in the late 1950s with Marshall Plan funding, commisioned by the Karamanlis government. It was to be, like many Marshall Plan constructions, a perfect billboard for the future promised to all the NATO participating countries, a hi-tech modernist emblem positioned on top of mount Parnitha, visible from the entire city of Athens, and who knows maybe even from Moscow? The building was also heavily used to promote the Greek Economy and Tourism forces to consider in the European landscape, and perhaps part of Karamanlis plan of Greece as a valid European partner.

Things did not exactly turn out like this, and the luxury resort proved to be a shaky gamble, criticized by many as a mediocre, poorly planned building. The rooms were too small for a mountain resort, the pool reminded one of a beach side fancy but was too windy and cold for anybody to use, the public spaces of the hotel were hard to navigate and offered none of the spectacular views that the location promised. The hotel went quickly bankrupt, and began a steady decline of alternating bankruptcies, renovations and unsuccessful conversions into a school of tourism, a state casino, a privately owned hotel and recently a half demolished ruin about to be re-built as a copy of it's previous self. Between these failed attempts to revive the building came earthquakes, fires and structural failures just adding to the list problems for this unlucky building. More than a capitalist gamble gone wrong, it seems as if the mountain itself was rejecting it's modernist occupant, as if constructing this building on top of this nature reserve was a perfect example of hybris.
At the same time, the counties economy underwent a similar series of failed renovations, seemingly unable to follow the course of capitalism, as it evolved from a cold-war political game of domination to the casino capitalism of financial markets, and to today's crisis capitalism.
In the end, the building that was meant as a billboard for the strength of the economy became an emblem of it's failures, inhabiting the peak of the current economic warzone.
The project researches this history, but takes a sharp turn into a future where the development of a cottage economy follows the fantasy solution of a midnight explosion. The broken pieces of the exploded casino scatter on the slopes of Mount Parnitha and slowly grow into small shelters, the modernist fragments helped into completion by the tree trunks of Parnitha, hybrid cottages that escape into a future of locally grown independed economies.

Andreas Angelidakis 2010-2012

3D and Animation: Sotiris Vasiliou

additional work for TROLL: Dimitris Silaidos, Nana Stathi, Georgios Eftaxiopoulos, Eirini Anthouli.
addtional 3D for CASINO: Diamadis Tegelidis
photediting Alexandra Syriou

video editing AA
installation: Sotiris Vasiliou, Alexandra Syriou, AA

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