‘Taverna’ provides insight into details of Greece’s daily life

Every night the city center is abuzz and, for once, great amounts of art feature prominently in parks, gardens and pedestrian streets like never before. People enjoy approaching the works and playing with them. Broad as this may sound, it particularly applies to «Taverna,» Takis Zerdevas and Makis Faros’s work of art on display at the pedestrianized part of Ermou Street (at the level of Kerameikos), which is one of the most popular exhibits. The title is indicative of the content: the work reincarnates a Greek taverna. On the surfaces of the six tables, video images of groups of friends sharing local delicacies are projected. At the same time, we hear their views, secrets, disagreements and quarrels. This interactive taverna provides a delicious insight into Greek life and is part of the «Catch the Light» program, organized by Athens 2004. The main idea was to create a space where private conversations could be expressed in public. «We don’t refer to words said on television, where people are talking in a ‘protected’ environment, are serious and know the rules,» said Zerdevas. «We were interested in words exchanged privately in a public place which, however, does not render the conversation official. Chatting in a taverna has no formality, we are not cautious about what we say.» Eavesdropping on the conversations, we can hear men discussing women and women deconstructing men. A conversation about football or zodiac signs could hardly be absent, while, at a nearby table, a few «intellectuals» talk without understanding each other; their words sound very serious, but are incoherent. At the only lonely table, a man plays with his worry beads. «As a work of art, ‘Taverna’ could be displayed in a museum. While the subject itself is familiar, the venue (a museum or a gallery) removes that familiarity. We would like to see this contradiction.» All the works of «Catch the Light» will be removed after the end of the Games on Sunday. «There have been some contacts about continuing the work or displaying it under different circumstances, but I wonder if there is a point there,» said Zervedas, who has spent these days next to «Taverna.» «People like it, I see that almost every night. This story is embedded in Greek people’s soul.»