Quando scoppia la pace (When peace erupts)
Vittorio Veneto becomes an experimental laboratory for artistic dialogue between the countries that participated in World War 1.
The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (EMST) supports the national representation of Greece by Bill Balaskas in Italy’s World War I centenary exhibition “Quando scoppia la pace” (“When peace erupts”).
This new permanent exhibition is hosted from Sunday 4 November 2018 by the city of Vittorio Veneto – the location of the last battle of the Great War (1914-1918). “Quando scoppia la pace” is curated by Dimitri Ozerkov, curator of contemporary art at the Hermitage State Museum, St. Petersburg.
A true “call to arts” is what brought in Italy 13 international artists selected by Dimitri Ozerkov, in order to reflect on peace at a place that is the symbol of the conclusion of WWI, 100 years later. Italy, France, United Kingdom, Russia, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Belgium, Greece, Czech Republic, Serbia and Croatia are countries of the nations once again gathering in Vittorio Veneto, in Treviso, giving the city an international spirit, of peace this time, through 13 works of contemporary art. 13 artworks specifically designed for 13 different locations in the historic districts of Vittorio Veneto, which from 4th November – the day on which the War officially ended – will define the first edition of an event that will be for Vittorio Veneto, the city of the final battle, a “Centennale”: an artistic itinerary that is both temporal and spatial, as former war locations will transform into places to celebrate peace every 100 years.
In the exhibition, Balaskas presents the first part of a new dual neon installation, titled “Apertures”. The work’s two parts are reproductions of the right-eye and left-eye apertures of a military mask that the artist discovered in Vittorio Veneto’s Battle Museum (Museo della Battaglia). The mask was used on the Alps, and its particular design was chosen in order to protect the soldiers’ eyes from snow and the low temperatures on the mountains. “Apertures” has been conceived by Balaskas as a work that shall co-exist in two different locations: Vittorio Veneto for one of the two “eyes”; and at a second location in Austria, which will be announced in the coming months, for the other “eye”. In this way, the work will have a physical presence on both sides of the Alps and, most importantly, on both sides of the Great War. However, a complete “view” of the War era and what it means today can only materialise by ultimately bringing those two parts “together”, above and beyond the mountains – a poignant allegory for the current state of Europe and the collective lessons to be learnt from World War I.
Balaskas’s work is exhibited at the entrance of the Battle Museum of Vittorio Veneto.
Artist’s short biography
Bill Balaskas (b. 1983, Thessaloniki) is an artist, theorist and academic based in Nottingham and London. His works have been exhibited internationally, in galleries, museums and festivals. In 2018, he was invited to represent Greece in Italy’s permanent World War I centenary exhibition, while in 2012 he represented the United Kingdom in the London Cultural Olympiad and in Maribor, the European Capital of Culture. Recent exhibitions include MACBA, Barcelona; BOZAR, Brussels; EMST National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens; CA2M, Madrid; Transmediale, Berlin; Le CENTQUATRE, Paris; John Hansard Gallery, Southampton; ARTIUM, Vitoria-Gasteiz; Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, Athens; TENT, Rotterdam; Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York; Thessaloniki Biennale; Musée des Abattoirs, Toulouse; and the British Film Institute, London. Recent lecture-performances and talks include Tate Liverpool; University of Oxford; Sharjah Biennial; Goldsmiths University, London; Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg; Central Saint Martins, London; Warburg Haus, Hamburg; De Bijloke Muziekcentrum, Ghent; and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Balaskas has received awards from the European Investment Bank Institute; Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art; European Cultural Foundation; Open Society Institute; and the Association of Art Historians, amongst others. In parallel with his artistic practice, he is an editor for the Leonardo Electronic Almanac (The MIT Press), while his writings have also appeared in edited books and in publications such as the Journal of Visual Culture, Third Text and Revista Arta. Originally trained as an economist, he holds a PhD in Critical Writing in Art & Design and an MA in Communication Art & Design from the Royal College of Art. Bill Balaskas is an Associate Professor and Research Coordinator at Nottingham Trent University, and an advisor to Arts Council England. He is represented by Kalfayan Galleries, Athens – Thessaloniki.
Photographs from the artwork “Apertures” of Bill Balaskas