Urgent Conversations: Antwerp – Athens is the second part of the collaboration project between the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (Μ HKA) and the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (EMST), which was launched in 2016. The exhibition is structured in four episodes until January 2018 and continues the theoretical and visual dialog between the works from the collections of the two museums. The first episode Thinking Visually (28.04–25.06.2017) shows work by Bia Davou, Anne-Mie van Kerckhoven and Alevtina Kakhidze.
This encounter between museums with an international collection is conceived as an exchange that aims to go beyond the mere events-based approach, typical for our time. The impetus for this project is the need for a cultural dialog within a diverse Europe.
Athens and Antwerp appear to be two extremes in Europe today. Yet both cities have, each in their own way, contributed essential building blocks to the cultural network of Europe. Athens not only gave birth to the general principles of our current societal organization, but also to its cultural structure. Even the concept of ‘dialog’ was born in Athens. Antwerp, on the other hand, is one of the pivotal cities of the early modern period. It is the city where Thomas More conceived his Utopia, the city where the first art market was born and the city where early science and humanistic printing went hand in hand with a flourishing trade.
Urgent Conversations: Antwerp–Athens is structured from the bottom, starting each time with a work by a Greek artist and one by a Belgian artist. These works are then brought together under an overarching theme that is expressed through the works. Finally, this theme is questioned and further developed by a third artist chosen from one of the two collections. In this way, thematic clusters are created that each include works by three artists, set up in dialog with each other as well as with the specific concept they thematize. The meeting of perspectives from seemingly opposite directions – one from Athens and another from Antwerp – creates the possibility of a common space. Such encounters thus result in the opening up and renewing of the existing frames of reference of both museums. Urgent Conversations: Antwerp–Athens embodies the belief that works of art constantly generate new meanings and questions, and in this way stimulate a dialog that can form a base for our way of thinking.
On the occasion of EMST and M HKA cooperation, a trilingual catalogue is available.
Bart De Baere (M HKA) & Katerina Koskina (EMST)
Jan De Vree (M HKA) & Stamatis Schizakis (EMST)