Tag Archives: Crisis in Greece

Art in Greece amid the Crisis

THE REVIEW by Villa Mediterranée
THE REVIEW by Villa Mediterranée (International Centre for Dialogue and Discussion in the Mediterranean)

Here is an excerpt from the article I wrote for THE REVIEW of Villa Mediterranée, translated into English by Dimitris Saltabassis.

In a perceptive overview of the Greek cultural scene, Dimitra Kouzi talks about the current mix of gloom and hope in a country in a state of deep economic crisis.
Beyond the news and headlines, art reflects the political, economic and everyday-life changes. Hasn't art in Greece been always in crisis? What's the difference now? "Art is inconsequential without our insistence. It seems that there is a need for it; this explains its survival," says artist Alexandros Mistriotis.

Artists work in a stifling atmosphere. "Everybody works more or less for free, yet there is great solidarity for everything," Art Historian Denys Zacharopoulos, Director of the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, adds.
There is such proliferation of art events that one is hard-pressed for choice. And that means new venues. In addition to the expansion and renovation of the National Gallery in Athens, currently in progress, and the establishment of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, housed in the former Fix brewery, after many years of temporary housing, there are currently in operation about ten new independent art venues in Athens, often under the aegis of the municipality. Run by people who have studied abroad and have an international network of contacts, they provide the infrastructure for an independent art scene to flourish, hosting work by young artists in a variety of genres (theatre, music, visual arts, architecture, graphic and fashion design, workshops). Housed in a historical building, the former headquarters of the extremely popular magazine Romanzo in a central Athens area more reminiscent of a ghetto in recent times, the BIOS – Romanzo creative hotbed provides office space for creative young people and start-ups focusing on technology, art and culture, while also hosting exhibitions, concerts, performances, collective actions, workshops and seminars. The BIOS team managed to turn over the image and population makeup of the whole area. "All young people find it hard to turn their ideas into practice in today's circumstances. Perhaps people think more in terms of cooperation now; a feeling of collectivity may have become more developed. The need to participate in the commons is more intensely and consciously felt."

Amidst the crisis, Rosie Diamantaki decided to establish an experimental art venue – Anamesa Art Space. She enables budding artists to take their first steps, irrespective of the commercial appeal of what they do. She also supports upcoming musicians and showcases projects that combine music and the visual arts. "There is a new generation of artists in all genres who make a new proposition in Greece. In the visual arts, there are young artists' teams which join larger groups or run their own spaces, working on projects featuring public interaction with a view to increasing the participation of art in a public dialogue, rather than being galleries in the strict sense, such as Arbit City Group, or 3137." She points out that, "Even Art Athina, the largest foire in Greece has introduced Platform Project, an initiative for young artists."

....  If you want to read the complete article (in French or English) you can order a copy of the the magazine or contact me.

2014-all-year 1416
Illustration: Yorgos Lanthimos The Uncrowned King by Jefferson Paganel


Halfway between a book and a magazine, the Villa Méditerranée’s The Review is, in its own way, an invitation to a new space to discover and examine the current issues of the Mediterranean world. In addition to the Villa’s missions, the Review seeks to bring together different interpretations of today’s most critical issues. This second issue questions the sustainability of a mobile world, public space, memory and conflicts, youth and identity issues, as well as the challenges facing tourism. It is available in English and in French.


Amnesia Diaries, by Stella Theodorakis

Stella Theodorakis takes a page out of her own diary, made up of fragments of the past and the present, a deeply personal work that slowly molds into something that concerns each and every one of us, just as intimately as it does her.

Video diaries have always been a rather “marginal” genre, a combination of words and images, walking the fine line between film and visual confessional, mostly assigned to the depths of experimental cinema - which doesn’t necessarily do its narrative powers justice.

And “Amnesia Diaries”- the cusp of Theodorakis’ rather idiosyncratic career – is living proof. Its experimental format is simply a means to an end, a way to document her journey from past to present, a deeply personal work that slowly molds into something that concerns each and every one of us, just as intimately as it does her.

How else do you explain the fact that her memories, her thoughts and her search for meaning could very well be your own? That her protagonists could very well be your parents, your friends and your lovers? That every incident, from the most riveting to the most trivial, could very well be a story out of your own journal? That there are times when you identify with this fanciful alternation of past and present so completely, that you feel like scribbling your own notes in the margins, adding your own images, your own memories and your own thoughts to the process?

And it’s all down to Stella Theodorakis’ mastery of the medium: the woman has composition and deconstruction down to an art!

Pulling images out of her past (mostly super 8 films, shot between 1985-1986) and combining them with footage from contemporary Athens (shot between 2010 and 2012), the filmmaker acts as a historian of her own life, as well as an entire era: the one that’s already been swallowed by history and the one that’s slipping though her fingers, between protests, violence and the growing vacancies of modern-day Athens. Each and every one of her past/present compositions is a direct contrast between the romantic past and the noisy, chaotic present.

Reminiscing and at the same time criticizing the past, Theodorakis is both the star and the innocent bystander, the girl she once was and the woman she now is. In turns pompous and playful, she tells the story of a woman who rediscovers her forgotten past while her present is falling to pieces. Both timelines are dominated by people: her long lost friends from the retro and rather innocent-looking 80s and her life-long companions that make life worth living in the clunky, ear-shattering 00s. The spaces in-between are filled with life, cinema, her mom always giving her dad en earful about his driving, sex, the lack of sex, a New Year’s cake recipe, tarot cards, astrological predictions, a cop across the street, a move, a French chanson and the random image of a woman bending over in the middle of the street to pick up something she dropped…

Seemingly haphazard images and sounds come together to populate the life of an angry, sad woman who’s trying to find the strength to carry on. And she does. It’s there in her old films and her new footage from the streets of the city. In everything her long lost friends have left behind and everything her life-long companions still bring to the table. It’s there in an image from Melbourne in the 80s, a trip to Tasmania, a New Year’s house party, the burned down movie theaters in downtown Athens in the February 2012 riots and a family vacation in Crete…

Although the effortless charm of the vintage segments always defeats the cheap social criticism of the present, this fascinating collage of images and emotions confirms that political cinema is not about making allegations, it’s about trying to make sense of it all.

by Manolis Kranakis/Flix


A new documentary about Greece and Democracy

Democratia, the way of the cross
An independent Greek feature-length documentary made by Marco Gastine about the campaign for the parliamentary election on May 6 2012 in Greece. The film follows four candidates, giving us a unique opportunity to explore the current political situation in Greece from a different perspective. The politicians belong to four different parties - a former minister from PASOK, a young politician with a family tradition in politics (his father was also MP), a woman from the left-wing SYNASPISMOS, and a candidate from Golden Dawn, the extreme right-wing party.Everybody tries to reach out to their voters and no-one has any real answers to Greece's pressing issues.
Demokratia the way of the cross is an observational, character-driven documentary without narration, a great insightful portrait of Greek politics.
Even though it's about the May 2012 election, Unfortunately for Greece it's still topical. Things don't change so quickly, especially when they have been in the same status quo for so many years.
It would have been better if it had been possible to have had this hot documentary ready sooner, but Marco Gastine told me that he preferred to have the premier in festivals, which is understandable.
The documentary was directed and produced by Marco Gastine jointly with Katerina Patroni, Nikolia Apostolou, Haris Raftogiannis, Christos Georgoutsos and Yiannis Misouridis. Each of these Greek filmmakers and camera-men and -women followed one politician. They had already worked together as a team for the series Docville, produced by Gastine.
The documentary (91 min, 52 min) was in the Market at DOK Leipzig and will be distributed in theatres in Greece in January.
On Wednesday December 5, the film will be screened at the French Institute in Athens (Sina 31, Kolonaki).

Marco Gastine
Director Marco Gastine

Listen to the interview (English) Marco Gastin gave me in November 2012 in Athens.