Greek actors and theater directors are preparing a letter of complaint to Culture Minister Aristides Baltas after the new artistic director of the Athens and Epidaurus Festival, Belgian multidisciplinary artist Jan Fabre, announced that this year’s event would focus on works from his homeland.
Fabre was appointed by the current government, which ousted the previous director, Giorgos Loukos, from the role of deciding the festival’s artistic content.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Fabre announced that the festival would open with an exhibition of his drawings, models, photographs and videos as a retrospective of his stage work since the 1970s, titled “Stigmata: Actions & Performances 1976-2013.”
This year’s edition of the festival will also include an exhibition of Belgian art and the staging of Fabre’s “Preparatorio Mortis.” Fabre, who said he prefers to be known as the festival’s “curator,” described this year’s event as being about the “Belgian spirit.”
He also said the festival would be known as the International Athens and Epidaurus Festival and that Greek artists would be brought back in from next year, making up a third of the performances and exhibitions.
“I am trying to create a program that will connect art forms and artists and create synergies,” he said. However, Greek artists appear upset at their exclusion from the event and plan to write an open letter to make their feelings known.
“This is not the Avignon Festival,” said actor and director Argyris Xafis. “The Athens festival was a key source of art,” he added, describing Fabre’s announcement as a “tasteless joke.”
“Some of the things he is proposing, such as the creation of an academy for new artists, are interesting,” said Prodromos Tsinikoris, the artistic director of the National Theater’s Experimental Stage.
“But in a country that has been destroyed economically, where theaters cannot get funding, you cannot exclude Greek troupes.”