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.