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Arts | 10.04.2017

Learning From Athens - documenta 14

Meet the artists:

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Culture | 04.04.2017

Antonis Antzus - Artist and Activist

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Athens - Historical Refuge

Expulsion and flight are central themes of documenta. Athens is hosting great numbers of refugees from Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan who are trying to get to Europe. But Athens has been a refuge for refugees since the 1920s, when the Greek-Turkish war unleashed a wave of ethnic cleansing in Asia Minor. The unregulated housing boom that began then is still shaping the city’s streets today.


Ruins as Inspiration

Andreas Angelidakis is a curator, architect and artist. The inspiration for his work is always drawn from motifs of ruins - be they ancient, modern or even imaginary. His work for documenta deals with the history of Athens – and the traces that migrations have left in the structure and architecture of the city.


Symbol of Resistance

Artist Georgia Sagri in front of the Polytechnio – for the Greeks, a symbol of resistance. During the military junta, students occupied the building for three days in 1973 before the regime struck back. The Polytechnio is one of several of the sites of documenta that are linked to dark chapters in Greek history.


The City as a Canvas

Athens is the capital of graffiti and street art – from political slogans to monumental murals. Albrecht Dürer’s "praying hands" are shown here tilting not upwards as in the original, but downwards - as if God is praying for mankind. This is why the work is called: “Praying for Us.”


Athens Underground

At first, the Greek crisis set free immense new energy as artists occupied spaces and set up their own projects. “Athens is the new Berlin,” they said. Even though the air gone out of some of them, Athens, like the German capital, has a vibrant underground scene. The curators are hoping that documenta will bring new impulses into the city and that new networks will emerge as a result.


New Perspectives on Athens

British-Nigerian photographer, curator and artist Akinbode Akinbiyi is a chronicler of big cities from Lagos to Berlin. In Athens, he captures many facets of the city’s history with his camera. His view represents documenta 14’s attempts to shift the focus beyond Western culture.


Art in the Torture Prison

documenta is using this barrack in the Parko Eleftherias (Park of Liberty) for discussions and performances. It is part of the former torture center of the military junta, which ruled through brutality, censorship and murder. Tens of thousands of people, especially from the left, were imprisoned here during this time. April 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the anti-Communist military putsch.


Art in the Port

Hiwa K took many of the shots for his video work "Pre.Image" in the port of Piraeus, where so many refugees make landfall in Athens. He comes from northern Iraq and fled to Germany via Greece in 1988. He has transformed his experiences of war, flight and death into installations, performances and films and sees himself less as an artist than as a storyteller.


The City as a Challenge

The crisis has not robbed Athenians of their critical spirit, so of course there are reservations about staging the exhibition in the city. Many say it exploits Greece’s plight as a picturesque backdrop for the international art elite. Graffiti by “native” artists is displayed opposite documenta’s office in the Exarcheia district. It’s both a challenge and an incentive for the documenta team.

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Video News | 04.04.2017

Athens from the sky

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