The National Printing House is turning 190 years old. Its machines have churned out every moment in the history of the modern Greek state, quite literally if you consider that the actual “letter” of the law, the Government Gazette (FEK) and every election ballot comes from this building.
Greece’s first state-run printing press was launched in Nafplio in 1825, with the publication of the “Newspaper of the Administration,” used to publish state acts and announcements. When Athens became the capital of the modern Greek state in 1834, a new one was built on what is now Panepistimiou Street. In 1907, the service was transferred to Kapodistriou Street, in a charming building that was expanded in 1937.
The National Printing House on Thursday inaugurated an exhibition at these premises titled “FEK + Art,” curated by Louiza Karapidaki, who invited 30 artists to contribute to the display.
The tireless curator was also behind another fascinating exhibition in 2014 at the General State Archives, allowing the public a closer look as another key state institution.
“There are a lot of similarities between the two exhibitions, mainly in that they allow citizens access to services that are usually visited for practical, less pleasurable reasons,” Karapidaki says. “Now, thanks to art, people will literally be able to see the institution from a different perspective.”
Karapidaki chose artists of different ages and who use different techniques. They visited the press for inspiration.
“Very few of the works pre-existed the project. The rest are completely incorporated into the National Printing House’s environment, as the artists drew ideas from many different facets of its operation.”
Among the artists that are taking part in the show are Yiannis Psychopedis, Kallirroi Marouda, Alekos Kyrarinis, Aphrodite Litti, Yiannis Adamakis, Dimitris Sevastakis and Rena Papaspyrou.
“The opening of the National Printing House to the public is one of our priorities and it is not restricted to the exhibition,” says the institution’s secretary, Dimitris Papadimitropoulos. “We have also launched a special competition that ends in early January, an invitation to graphic artists, as we are looking for original proposals to upgrade the Government Gazette from both an aesthetic and a functional perspective so it will be more in line with the changes in printing and digital technology.”
The exhibition (at 34 Kapodistriou, tel 210.527.9101) will run to February 10, 2016. Opening hours are Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays from 5.30 to 7.30 p.m.