798 Space, Beijing, China
01/06/2008 – 15/07/2008
Curated By: Anna Kafetsi
Chen Zhen’s term ‘transexperiences’, which we have borrowed for the title of this exhibition, lends itself very well indeed to an alternative view of contemporary art production and its recent history in Greece. It allows, on the one hand, to be integrated in a global artistic framework, revealing interdependent or different experiences, dialogical relationships and the desire for communication with the rest of the world, over and beyond demarcations of identities and differences, and, on the other hand, the expansion of the concept of the national, incorporating diaspora without the doubts and contradictions of former and traditional approaches.
Artistic emigration to the large Western art centres has never ceased to constitute, during the last two centuries of Greek national existence, the necessary condition of survival of art and of Greek artists. In earlier periods, this need was usually experienced as a dilemma or oscillation between East and West, and various syncretisms between indigenous traditions and Western modernism were often legitimised through the ‘indigenisation’ of ‘foreign loans’ in favour of ‘Greekness’ in art. On the contrary, during the last twenty years, transcultural contacts are not considered without an open and guilt free process of transcending the local, an interdisciplinary and inter-artistic opening up to other fields of knowledge and creativity, and an extended use of artistic hybridism, dictated by the exit from the studio, the production of works in situ or in cyberspace, and generally the incorporation of different cultural and human experiences and situations into the work of art.
It is obvious that transexperiences, which describe the artists’ desire to go out of the Greek borders, also encourage a new, expanded and by all means fluid relationship with cultural locality. In this relationship not only the same and the other co-exist without coming into conflict, but identical references and meanings can be used, read or translated in different ways. This perception comes into stark contrast with a traditional view of diaspora which presupposes a distinction between past and present, here and there, homeland/place of origin and host country and often reduces the multiple diasporic experiences manifest in works of art to Manichean dipoles.
The transexperiential perception opens up in this exhibition, which summarizes the open character of today’s reality in the visual arts in Greece, a field capable to accept diaspora artists of Greek origin along with other, more permanently settled ones, older and younger ones, without any age prejudice, as well as a series of well-known and fine works which, along with more recent productions, establish a new ‘inter-context’ among them.
According to the subjacent idea of the exhibition, which is in agreement with the respective approaches and practices of the artists themselves – great example among them the international artist Jannis Kounellis –, this new environment proves to be a par excellence field for synergy. It brings into contact and osmosis different works which have been produced in other artistic contexts and cultural connotations so that their co-presence and mutual interaction produce new, often unexpected communication networks, relationships and reinterpretations.
Our aim is to create a most extensive range of transexperiences, where the visitor is invited, just like “a migrant”, to transcend his own national and local identifications and to open up himself to other narratives and stories. Mixed genres of artistic expression in which intersect through a rich network of intertextual relations, painting with video, in situ situation with sculpture and the internet, installation with photography and text, or photography with cinema open up to various philosophical, psychological, sociological and other wanders, with a manifestly critical, often playful or ironical attitude vis-à-vis actual events and existing situations. They seek places and manners of human existence, reconcile technology and religious experiences, approach secular as well as divine visions, explore the boundaries between fiction and reality, visualize silence and the unspoken.
Through multiple anthropogeographies, myths, rituals, global or local phenomena of violent politico-social demarcations and conflicts, and ultimately through all that is invested in these references as experience, memory, concept or metaphor, the profound community of the human condition is revealed to the visitor through the dialectic alternation of presence and absence, life and death. In spite of the incontinuities and fluidity which accompany his journey to unknown, often unfamiliar artistic territories, the visitor of the exhibition will have the opportunity to discover cultural and intellectual convergences, invisible ties and common places, the human dimension.
Transexperiences Greece 2008 is not only a great opportunity to present to the Chinese and international public some of the most important, internationally renowned as well as younger Greek artists. The fascinating industrial venue, Space 798, in the most vibrant district of Beijing for contemporary art, enabled us to create a new location for transcultural encounter and experience
Editor: Anna Kafetsi
160 pages, 29 X 24 cm, Athens 2008
Trilingual (Greek – English-Chinese)
With reproductions of the works
Available for sale: price 25 euros