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USA in GREECE: Partnership with Piraeus Municipal Theater

ARTPORT focuses on collaborations and cultural interconnections between the United States and Greece, showcasing artistic experimentation in visual arts, performance, and its further impact in the broader contemporary cultural production, in the new space of the Municipal Theater at the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) Warehouse Complex, but also in the Theater’s main building.

Celebrating the variety and diversity of contemporary cultural media and creative industries, the new cultural platform of the Municipal Theater of Piraeus sheds light on the evolution of the visual arts’ language in relation to theater and performance art, and centers on the presentation of international artists in a dialog with Greek ones.

In the framework of ‘Greece in USA’ platform and its promotion of contemporary Greek culture in the United States, with the presentation of 150 Greek artists and their work in 2021, Dr. Sozita Goudouna curates in collaboration with the Municipal Theater of Piraeus a series of exhibitions showcasing prominent international artists including John Akomfrah (2021), Arthur Jafa (2022), Andres Serrano (2021).

ARTPORT aims to research the visual as well as the aesthetic range of experimentation in the visual arts, especially in the framework of contemporary art exhibitions and the cultural scene of Piraeus. The program was launched on September 8, 2021, with “/Torture,” the first ever in Athens solo exhibition of Andres Serrano, one of the most celebrated American artists, who inaugurated the new Theater’s space in Warehouse A3 of OLP, and the presentation of a video installation entitled “The Airport” by John Akomfah, on September 16, on the main stage of the Municipal Theater of Piraeus.

“The Airport” by John Akomfah is a video installation comprised of three films, conceived as a meditation on the history of Greece and its recent financial crisis. The work delves into the landscape of Southern Greece and specifically the abandoned airport of Hellinikon, which is under a state of transformation. The installation draws on the work of film directors Stanley Kubrick (1935-2012) and Theodoros Angelopoulos (1935-2012). The work’s elastic sense of time references “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968), while Angelopoulos’s technique of continuous motion between the camera, the characters, and the landscape, is employed to a poetic effect.
The solo exhibition “/Torture” by Andres Serrano, a production of the organization a/political delves into the history of torturing.

 

THE AIRPORT BY JOHN AKOMFRAH

The Airport is a three-screen film installation conceived as a meditation on the history of Greece and its recent financial crisis. Set in the landscape of Southern Greece and an abandoned airfield near Athens, the film recalls the work of two filmmaking greats: Stanley Kubrick (1928–1999) and Theo Angelopoulos (1935–2012). Accompanied by a soundtrack composed by John Akomfrah, the film’s elliptical narrative weaves together cinematic, literary, philosophical, and artistic traditions, where spaces of human ruin and natural beauty abound. Populated by displaced and anachronistic characters – including an elderly man in a tuxedo who re-lives moments from his past and his future, a wandering astronaut, a marauding gorilla, and forlorn travelers – the film contemplates the significance of empires and the ghosts which linger in our collective consciousness, both physically through architecture and the psychological traces from previous generations. The film’s elastic sense of time references Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), while Angelopoulos’ technique of constant movement between camera, characters, and locations is also employed to a poetic effect.

Actor: Yota Argyropoulou, Aurora Marion, Connie Zikou
Three channel HD colour video installation, 7.1 sound 53 minutes
Director: John Akomfrah
Producers: Lina Gopaul and David Lawson
Courtesy the artist and Lisson Gallery

JOHN AKOMFRAH
Short Bio

 

John Akomfrah (born 1957) lives and works in London. He has had numerous solo exhibitions including Midlands Art Centre, Birmingham, UK (2022); E-WERK, Freiburg, Germany (2022); Remai Modern, Saskatoon, Canada (2022); Towner Eastbourne, Eastbourne, UK (2021); Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona, Spain (2021); Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Sevilla, Spain (2020); Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA, USA (2020); Secession, Vienna, Austria (2020); BALTIC, Gateshead, UK (2019); ICA Boston, MA, USA (2019); Museu Coleção Berardo, Lisbon, Portugal (2018); New Museum, New York, NY, USA (2018); Bildmuseet, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden (2015, 2018); SFMOMA, San Francisco, CA, USA (2018); Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain (2018); Barbican, London, UK (2017); Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, UK (2017); Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK (2016); Nikolaj Kunsthal, Copenhagen, Denmark (2016); STUK Kunstcentrum, Leuven, Belgium (2016);  Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan, USA (2014); Tate Britain, London, UK (2013-14) and a week long series of screenings at MoMA, New York, USA (2011). His participation in international group shows includes: ‘Fault Lines’, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, USA (2022); ‘Posteriority’, Museum of Contemporary Art Busan, Busan, South Korea (2021); ‘Am I Human To You?’, Art Museum KUBE, Alesund, Norway (2021); ‘Affect Machine: Self-healing in the Post-Capitalist Era’, Taipaei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan (2021); Ghana Pavilion, 58th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2019); ‘Strange Days: Memories of the Future’, New Museum x The Store, London, UK (2018); Prospect 4, New Orleans, LA, USA (2017); ‘Restless Earth’, La Triennale di Milano, Milan, Italy (2017); ‘Unfinished Conversations’, Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NY, USA (2017); ‘British Art Show 8’ (2015-17); ‘All the World’s Futures’, 56th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2015); ‘History is Now: 7 Artists Take On Britain’, Hayward Gallery, London, UK (2015); ‘Africa Now: Politcal Patterns’, SeMA, Seoul, South Korea (2014); Sharjah Biennial 11, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (2013); Liverpool Biennial, UK (2012) and Taipei Biennial, Taiwan (2012). He has also been featured in many international film festivals, including Sundance Film Festival, Utah, USA (2013 and 2011) and Toronto International Film Festival, Canada (2012). He was awarded the Artes Mundi Prize in 2017.

 

TORTURE BY ANDRES SERRANO

“It’s easy to torture people when you have power over them.” – Andres Serrano

At The Foundry, an experimental space in the French industrial town of Maubourguet, Andres Serrano assumed the role of the torturer. Under the guidance of military personnel, Serrano photographed more than 40 models in degrading positions, using devices that were produced on-site by the local residents. The models suffered humiliation and actual physical distress as they were shackled, submerged and forced into stress positions for extended periods of time.
Both mental and physical techniques were used on his subjects, as Serrano chose to enter into a lineage of perverse experimentation for punishment or coercive means. During the Holocaust, brutal medical testing included sterilization, needless amputations and the conjoining of twins for the sadistic physical and ideological advancement of the Nazi race. Not long after, the architects of horror changed from physicians to psychologists, informing Stasi interrogators and laying the foundation for the CIA’s covert torture program. Inspired, in part, by the methods the British Government used in Northern Ireland during the time of “The Troubles”, the reoccurring ‘deep interrogation’ tactics comprised of five techniques, wall-standing, hooding, subjection to noise, deprivation of sleep, and deprivation of food and drink.

“Don’t tell me it doesn’t work – torture works.” – Donald Trump

Society is numbed, in a world seemingly apathetic to the global web of covert state-sanctioned torture policies. Believing that these heinous techniques are used for our own security, we give up our freedoms to become slaves, metaphorically shackled and humiliated by our own naivety. Serrano offers a way out – inviting the audience to adopt his gaze. Now the torturers, we are aroused. Awoken from our slumber, we are both seduced and appalled by the contemporary icons of warfare, the martyrs we were not meant to see.
– Torture was initiated and produced by a/political

ANDRES SERRANO 
Short Bio

Andres Serrano was born in New York (USA) in 1950. He lives and works in New York.

Graduated from the Brooklyn Museum Art School of New York (USA) in 1969, Andres Serrano is one of the most recognized contemporary artist on the international art scene.

He enjoyed several major solo shows such as Andres Serrano – Retrospective at the Moscow House of Photography (Russia, 2005), Dark Places at the Santa Monica Museum of Art (USA, 2006), Beautiful Suffering – Photography and the Traffic in Pain at the Williams College Museum of Art (USA, 2006), En Las Fronteras at the Villa Croce Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in Genoa (Italy, 2006), A History of Sex at the Kulturen of Lund (Sweden, 2007), Andres Serrano at the Palais Fesch – Musée des Beaux-Arts in Ajaccio (Corsica, 2014), Ainsi soit-il at the Château de Villeneuve, Fondation Emile Hugues in Vence (France, 2015),Redemption at the Fotografiska Museum of Stockholm (Sweden, 2015), Andres Serrano at the Void Derry of Londonderry (Ireland, 2016), Torture at the Collection Lambert, Avignon (France, 2016), Ainsi soit-il at the Collection Lambert en Avignon (France, 2016), Uncensored photographs at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels (2016), Andres Serrano at La Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris (France, 2016), Andres Serranoat the Petit Palais in Paris (France, 2017), Andres Serrano – Revealing Reality at Huis Marseille in Amsterdam (The Netherlands, 2017), Andres Serrano: An American Perspective at the Red Brick Art Museum in Beijing (China, 2017), Torture at the Stills Gallery in Edinburgh (United Kingdom, 2018), The Game – All Things Trump at ArtX in New York (USA, 2019), Infamous, at the NeueHouse, Los Angeles and at Fotograsfiska, New York (USA, 2020), Torture by Andres Serrano- An A/political Project, Municipal Theatre of Pireaus, Athens (Greece, 2021), and Infamous at Fotografiska Stockholm (Sweden, 2022).

He also took part in several significant group shows among which Street & Studio: An Urban History of Photography at the Tate Modern of London (United Kingdom, 2008), Traces du Sacré at the Pompidou Center of Paris (France, 2008), Autour de l’extrême at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris (France, 2010), Unsettled: Photography and Politics in Contemporary Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (USA, 2011), NYC 1993 at the New Museum of New York (USA, 2013), Le Mur at La Maison Rouge in Paris (France, 2014), Slip of the tongue, at the Punta della Dogana, Pinault Foundation in Venice (Italy, 2016), Perfect Likeness : Photography and composition at the Hammer Museum of Los Angeles (USA, 2016), Joie de vivre at the Palais des Beaux Arts of Lille (France, 2016), Nothing but blue skies at the Rencontres de la photographie in Arles, (France, 2016), Love Stories during the PHOTAUMNALES 2016 in Beauvais (France, 2016), An incomplete history of protest at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (USA, 2018), Show your wound at the Dom Museum in Vienna (Austria, 2018) and Incarnations – African Art as Philosophy at the Centre for Fine Arts – BOZAR in Brussels (Belgium, 2019).

 

Andres Serrano has been represented by la Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels, since 2012.

 

CURATOR’S BIO

Dr. Sozita Goudouna is a professor, curator and author, her book Beckett’s Breath: Anti-theatricality and the Visual Arts was published by Edinburgh Critical Studies in Modernism and released in the US by Oxford University Press. She holds a PhD on Beckett and American high-Modernism from the University of London, and an MA from King’s College London and RADA Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. She has had a distinguished 20-year career in the cultural sector, serving in many executive roles prior to becoming the director of the non-profit Greece in USA in 2020. Her internationally exhibited and produced projects include participation at the New Museum, Performa Biennial in New York, Documenta, Onassis Foundation New York, French Consulate NYC, Hunterian Museum, Benaki Museum, Byzantine Museum, EMST Contemporary Art Museum, MET Metropolitan Museum of Art among others. She is head of operations at Raymond Pettibon Studio, adjunct professor at Pace University, and visiting professor at City University New York (CUNY) and New York University. She has taught at New York University since 2015 as the inaugural Andrew W. Mellon Curator fellow at Performa Biennial in NYC. She has also taught at the New School, SUNY, Roger Williams University, Goldsmiths University, the University of the Peloponnese among other universities. Prior to joining Performa, she conducted and was the three year artistic director of the 1st EU-funded research and exhibitions program in Athens, under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture. During her directorship, she curated and commissioned projects by Martin Creed, Santiago Sierra, Lynda Benglis, and Roy Ascott. She collaborated in 2014 with Marina Abramovic for the production of “Seven Deaths”. She is the founding director of the US non-profit Greece in USA for the promotion of contemporary Greek art. Sozita served as treasurer of the board of directors of AICA Hellas International Art Critics Association and as member of the board of directors at ITI International Theatre Association UNESCO. Her research has been published in academic journals including: The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, GPS Global Performance Studies, Theater Topics, Seismopolite Art & Politics Journal, BST Body Space & Technology Journal. Minnesota University Press will publish her forthcoming co-authored publication “Among the Ends.”

PRODUCTION

Out of the Box Intermedia is a non-profit interdisciplinary arts organization actively committed to the research, development, and presentation of location-driven and intermedia projects. The organization was established in London and Athens in 2008 and aims to promote international exchange of practice and knowledge in the arts (visual and sound art, dance, architecture, theatre), to research on the methods used in theatre and curatorial practices and to investigate points of intersection between the arts and the public sphere by means of interventions, collective actions, and educational programs. Out Of The Box Intermedia was founded in 2008 in London and in 2015 in New York and has produced intermedia projects internationally in venues such as the New Museum in New York, Performa Biennial New York, Andrew and Shiva Gallery New York, City University of New York, French Embassy New York, Municipal Theater of Piraeus, Undercurrent-Brooklyn, Greek Consulate New York, EMST National Museum of Contemporary Arts Athens, Documenta, Shunt Vaults, Hunterian Museum, French Institute, Barbican Centre, Benaki Museum, Byzantine Museum, Historical Archives Museum, Place-London, Art-Athina International Art Fair among others and in the public sphere. Out of The Box Intermedia founded the initiative https://greeceinusa.com


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