Kunsthalle Athena is a flexible art centre dedicated to the visual culture of our time. Its major objective is to reintroduce contemporary art and its significance to a genuine public sphere, prioritizing the possibility of co-producing and thus extending culture.
Drawing on creative sources of varied origins and providing a vital core of social interaction and exchange, Kunsthalle Athena is constantly informed by the idiosyncrasy and distinctiveness of Athens and its public. Our desire is to emphasize the constant transformation of ‘the polis’ as a symbolic location for the production and dissemination of contemporary culture worldwide.
Founded in 2010, Kunsthalle Athena is an initiative of curator and writer Marina Fokidis and remains grateful to its many friends for their generosity and spirit of solidarity.
Please scroll down to read more
Kunsthalle Athena is intended as a critical intervention in the art scenes of Athens, Greece and Europe at large. Reflecting on the social role of art institutions in the 21st century, Kunsthalle Athena eschews an attachment to the mere display of contemporary art, prioritising instead the possibility of co-producing culture. Drawing on creative sources of varied origins and providing a vital core of social interaction and exchange, Kunsthalle Athena is committed to facilitating the public’s encounter with contemporary art on a regular and informal basis.
Kunsthalle Athena does not merely intend to cater to a public – the art community – already in place but to take part in an expansion of a democratic public sphere through dialogue with its many constituencies. Kunsthalle Athena asks: what is the role of contemporary art in shaping a democratic public sphere? Kunsthalle Athena intends to answer this question collaboratively and by learning through the experiences and insights of others. Kunsthalle Athena also wishes to learn through mistakes – not least, eventually its own. It will not aspire to authority and infallibility but will foster a spirit of optimism and shared responsibility. It will be what ‘we’ make of it for as long as we want to make ‘it’. Cultural and art institutions with a critical agenda and a self-reflective attitude provide a constant source of inspiration for Kunsthalle Athena. At the same time, the urban cultures of Athens, at the moment of the city’s most unpredictable transformation under global forces, provide an intricate learning ground and a concrete point of origin for its activities, direction and prospects of viability.
Kunsthalle Athena seeks to develop a varied programme of activities through its nomadic urban existence. At the moment of its inception, Kunsthalle Athena has no permanent source of funding and its existence is largely the outcome of co-operative action and imaginative use of resources. In May 2010, its short-term launching project, The Bar, is thus articulated symbolically in Metaxourgeio, a neighborhood in central Athens where the city’s rapid transformation is apparent. Other projects will follow, and multiply, until Kunsthalle Athena gets to be realised as a regular event, space offering moments of critical thinking to those who feel that they need them. Kunsthalle Athena does not intend to be an ‘oasis passive' but a point of concentrated involvement.
Kunsthalle Athena is committed to making the most of the opportunities for radical curating that present themselves locally and globally. Curating is understood as a living relationship between art practice, experimentation and the transformative act of a socially engaged, non-didactic pedagogy. Provisional interpretation, open communication, but also contestation, inform the curatorial practice favoured by Kunsthalle Athena. When exhibitions, short or long-term projects, talks, conferences, presentations, screenings and workshops on contemporary art meet alternative domains of creative practice based, for example, on Athens’ popular and youth cultures, ‘culture’ unfolds as a living and indispensable part of everyday life. Contemporary art becomes everybody’s asset and an application field for those who claim their right to creativity against all odds. Yet Kunsthalle Athena has no illusions. Building on the traditions of auto-critique, it will inevitably operate within the limits of the possible, in the firm belief that something is better than nothing. It will be an art institution but will keep asking: what can an art institution be, and why?
The local public’s interest in contemporary art has been significantly broadened and Athens is emerging as a destination on the international map of contemporary art thanks to the efforts of individuals as well as private and state institutions. But the Greek capital’s current visibility in an international context is also connected with other, more troubling processes. Recent socio-political events and economic turmoil in the region have made apparent the need for novel, participative and co-operative initiatives in the field of culture, if the latter is to retain and extend its relevance. Kunsthalle Athena is not concerned with locating itself within the newest art world trends but, equally, it is not preoccupied with avoiding the latter. Its major objective is to be part of, and assist in, the realisation of agency through art. Art is itself part of this precarious intellect that strives for critical discourse. In 2010, as the country and its capital enter a period of economic uncertainty that challenges the social fabric, Kunsthalle Athena sees in this difficult moment art’s possibility to address the social imaginary. ‘We’ cannot wait for a better moment to present itself. This is the right moment for doing things differently, for seeing differently and for believing in making a difference.
Kunsthalle Athena will be based on essential teamwork among individuals and groups with a wide range of expertise and competences, seeking the creative contribution of local and global communities. It will encourage creative interactions with an international scope while its gravitational centre will be the distinctiveness of Athens and its public. Kunsthalle Athena will offer a new way to experience art in Athens, providing an alternative to that of the conventional art museum and related art institutions while aiming to complement them. The aim of Kunsthalle Athena is to emphasise the constant transformation of ‘the polis’ (Athens) as a symbolic location for the production and dissemination of contemporary culture worldwide.
Co-authored by Marina Fokidis, Sotirios Bahtsetzis and Angela Dimitrakaki.
Κεραμεικού 28, Κεραμεικός - Μεταξουργείο (χάρτης)
Πλησιέστερος σταθμός μετρό: Μεταξουργείο
Address: 28, Kerameikou str., Kerameikos - Metaxourgeio, Athens (map)
Closest Metro station: Metaxourgeio
Postal address: 36, Galinou str., 11741, Athens