CULTURE

The making of an art event

Through «Outlook,» the largest exhibition of contemporary art ever held in Greece, Athenians had a chance to see up close works by some of the most established contemporary artists internationally. This was one of the chief intentions of «Outlook:» to bring international art to Greece on a large scale while simultaneously giving Greece international exposure by putting the country on the international visual arts scene map, as the organizers said. Although it will take some time to evaluate the degree of its lasting success, «Outlook» was a seminal art event, significant both internationally and even more so for the art scene of this country. This is partly what makes «Inside Outlook,» a documentary by independent documentary filmmaker Andreas Economakis, so interesting to watch. Economakis offers viewers an exclusive behind-the-scenes view of «Outlook,» guiding them through the creation of the exhibition and the teamwork of artists, curators and other collaborators. He also gives insight into the concepts behind this large art production. Intrigued by the idea of observing the preparations of an art exhibition and the work of curators and artists in its entire process, Economakis initiated the project on his own and when a production company that backed him at the start withdrew, he continued alone. He released it through logosfilms, his own production company, with Natasha Adamou as co-producer. «It was a labor of love,» Economakis told Kathimerini English Edition. Although deprived of the amenities that come with a fully staffed film production, Economakis turned an obstacle into an advantage. Unrestricted by the tight time frame that budget poses on a production company, he took time to observe the «Outlook» process, attend long hours with the exhibition’s team, thoroughly research each artist’s work before interviews and, in the end, gain the confidence of curators and artists who regularly shy away from journalists and documentarians. Somehow all this comes across in the film. There is a flow, a sense of ease and familiarity that is different from the rigid structure that typify many documentaries. Economakis began filming in September 2002 and continued right through a month after the opening of the exhibition in early fall of 2003. He gathered 50 hours worth of material and spent another year-and-a-half editing it down to a final 55 minutes. The film’s montage was perhaps one of the biggest challenges. Although most of the material was not included, what finally made it to the film gives a concise, tight and informative presentation of the exhibition. The film includes interviews with exhibition curator Christos Joachimedes, deputy curator Giorgos Tzirtzilakis, art historian and «Outlook» team member Eleni Koukou, as well as several artists who participated in the exhibition, including Yiannis Kounellis, Jan Fabre, Franz Ackerman, Thanassis Totsikas, Olaf Nicolai, Gunther Forg, Christian Jankowski and Mandred Pernice. These interviews are interspersed between images showing preparations in the exhibition’s three main venues. Several of the non-Greek artists visited Athens, producing works especially for «Outlook» and, in most cases, referencing some aspect of the city. At one point, Giorgos Tzirzilakis points out that «Outlook» functioned as a workshop, a project that bore new works, most of them related to Athens. The film centers on the relevance of the «Outlook» exhibition to Athens. It presents art not as a mere visual product, but as a vigorous part of our lives, an ongoing «process» that makes us more aware of our surroundings. Economakis hopes to distribute «Inside Outlook» internationally and might begin petitioning international documentary festivals. In Greece, the film is available on DVD at the Spyros Vassileiou Museum and could be seen in public screenings in the future. Whatever the viewing fate of the film, Economakis at the very least experienced the making of a seminal modern art event and created his own work of art – «Outlook» as an audiovisual narrative. Focusing on interesting stories An interesting story, not a specific topic, is what drives documentary filmmaker Andreas Economakis to make or collaborate on a film project. Besides his documentaries on contemporary art (a 15-minute documentary on «Monument to Now,» the large exhibition on the art collection of Dakis Joannou, are among his most recent art related films), his work includes a broad range of themes. He has recorded a day in the life of six motorcyclists in St Petersburg in «Normalno,» documented architecture in Nafplion, and profiled the poet and philosopher Ric Masten in the award-winning «Troubador.» Economakis has also worked for the Emmy-award winning 2001 documentary «A Visual Journey of Christ in Art,» by Voyager Productions and worked extensively in advertising. Because Economakis believes the film industry in Greece lacks opportunities as it is controlled by a narrow milieu, he has worked extensively with foreign production companies. Economakis was trained abroad and spent many years working in Hollywood as a director, camera operator and production manager both in advertising and film. Before that, he studied history and political science at Columbia University in New York. His most recent work in Greece includes a documentary on the atelier of Spyros Vassileiou, a recently opened museum focusing on the artist’s work. He is currently working on a series about the protection of the sea turtle, a project commissioned by the Archelon sea turtle protection society.