Athens' art scene has been under the spotlight of late, with the opening of the Athens Biennale, as well as a wave of artists, entrepreneurs, and art spaces setting up shop in the city.
Curator and professor Sozita Goudouna confirms that while many consider the city as the 'new Berlin', there is a lack of understanding around what's happening on the ground.
Goudouna is looking to change this. Alongside her role as Head of Operations at Raymond Pettibon's studio, she has founded Greece in USA. Launched in 2020 during the pandemic, the platform seeks to create a dialogue with the art scene in Greece, bringing a 50/50 cohort of international and Greek artists together with a focus on commissioning works with live elements, whether through choreography or new media.
With a model that is similar to Performa, a performance festival happening every other November across different venues in New York, the platform aims to liberate Greek contemporary art from the confines of 'Greekness' and its romanticisation.
'It's easier to import great talent, rather than export it,' explains Goudouna, of the challenge of platforming Greek art abroad, particularly when dealing with funding bodies such as the Ministry of Culture, which has traditionally focused on classical art, and is now starting to have a systemic approach to the promotion of contemporary Greek artists.
With a number of partnerships in the pipeline, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the new winter programme of French Institute Alliance Française in New York to highlight Greek artists that showed in France, and the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art to unveil Greek contemporary art practices that are less known, the view is to platform an eclectic range of work, with recent presentations including The Right to Breathe—a virtual exhibition that explored 'the "shortness of breath" derived from the experience of political pressure, social injustice, and economic austerity', with work by 150 Greek and Cypriot artists.
Goudouna's desire to look beyond geographic specificity is reflected in her choice of artworks for this Curated Selection, with selections such as Mrinalini Mukherjee's layered bronze sculptures, which she first encountered in the artist's retrospective at The Met Breuer, reflecting an interest to tap into art from South Asia, as well as Turkey and surrounding regions, to further contextualise Greek art.
Other selections include a delicate sculpture by pioneering sculptor Lynda Benglis, who Goudouna proposed to represent the Hellenic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2016, as well as an eerie C-print of a still from John Akomfrah's film The Airport (2016)—a reflection on the history of Greece and its recent financial crisis, which Greece in USA presented in Athens in September 2021 in partnership with the Municipal Theater of Pireaus at their new industrial venue at the port of Pireaus.
Main image: Sozita Goudouna. Apartment SheltonMindel℠ Lee F. Mindel at the Jenga building designed by Herzog de Meuron. Sculpture by Marc Fornes. Photo: Elizabet Davidsdottir.