The historians of the future will have to carefully examine this new wave of interest in Athens – or is it love? The trend was perhaps sparked by the country’s financial crisis and the ensuing urban decay, but it cannot be denied that rejection is not the only reaction to the Greek capital. In fact, a new interpretation has surfaced.
This new interpretation has been facilitated by image-sharing on social media. However, this proliferation of imagery is most probably the result of the renewed interest, and not the cause, and it is mostly based on young people.
Now a new initiative launched by the Benaki Museum seeks to engage the fresh reservoir of Athenians who live in and explore the capital. The idea behind the initiative was inspired by the museum’s Modern Greek Architecture Archives (MGAA), which contain mostly unknown treasures.
The archives encompass sketches, mock-ups, photographs and manuscripts – all evidence of the country’s architecture and urban planning since the late 19th century.
“As the museum sorts out this precious material with the intention of sharing it with a wider audience, it wishes to share its love for Athens with you,” the organizers said.
The Benaki Museum has reached out to the capital’s citizens by inviting them to take part in a competition, in which participants are required to submit a one-minute video with their own take on Athens.
The competition, which is dubbed “One-Minute Athens,” is open to everyone. It requires no special skills. All you need is a cell phone with a video camera (sound is optional) and an imaginative way of viewing the city.
The Benaki archives have plenty of material on the historical and architectural stages of Athens through the years, with stimuli for an in-depth understanding of the capital. It is understood that the organizers expect the promotion of a less cliched and more processed perspective. There are no constraints.
“We are asking for your take on Athens today,” the organizers said. “More specifically, your individual perspective on the city’s architectural form by means of moving images that will highlight the details of a specific subject – buildings, public squares, monuments, the coastline, the city center and so on – which you believe is worth focusing on, in any way you prefer,” the organizers said.
The projects will be evaluated by a five-member committee made up of architects Rena Sakellaridou and Elena Servoudaki, film directors Argyris Papadimitropoulos and Syllas Tzoumerkas and film critic Thodoris Koutsoyiannopoulos, who will also be the curator of the competition. A selection will be screened during an event at the Benaki Museum’s Pireos Street annex in December.
The deadline for submissions is September 20. Participants can upload their project on a cloud-based computer file transfer service (WeTransfer, Google Docs, FTP) before sending a link to [email protected]