Forget everything you’ve seen at previous editions of the Athens Biennale. Under the title “Agora,” this year’s event, which takes place at the former Athens Stock Exchange on central Sophocleous Street, is not exactly an exhibition. While a number of artworks are on display, the biennale by no means offers a panorama of contemporary visual art.
So what exactly is the 4th Athens Biennale? It’s difficult to answer this question succinctly considering that the event’s recent unconventional press conference – a gathering which resembled a public discussion more than a media presentation – did little to provide much in the way of answers.
According to the biennale’s organizers – the event is being put together by a group of about 40 people from the world of visual arts, social sciences and journalism – the challenge is for “Agora” to feature ideas, works of art, initiatives, discussions and debates. The event is intended to be a platform for a dialogue with society, and in order to achieve that, it is prepared to bare all.
The man behind it all, artist Poka-Yio, aka Polydoros Kariofyllis, described the event as an “empty box” and referred to the considerable efforts made by participating artist in terms of developing a common discourse.
“We came up with a very different kind of group, we challenged our own works,” noted Poka-Yio. “We realized that this year’s biennale was more of an event, and that’s how we designed it.”
Visitors entering the landmark building on Sophocleous Street are greeted by a large digital board displaying the market prices quoted during the last session of the Athens Stock Exchange before the financial institution moved to its new premises on Athinon Avenue.
Beneath the digital board an amphitheater made of wooden pallets represents a modern-day Pnyx, while works of art, photographs, sculptures, installations, sketches and videos are displayed on the building’s various floors. In nearby Kotzia Square, art space CAMP! Contemporary Art Meeting Point acts as a complimentary display space and hosts a number of the biennale’s works.
An all-inclusive ticket is available, which is valid for the duration of the biennale through December 1, and provides access to all the various events and exhibitions.
For more information on the event, visit www.athensbiennale.org.