Plans for contemporary art event

When rumors about an Athens art biennial spread recently, everybody was taken aback by the idea that the city could pull off hosting an international art event that would gather artists and curators from all over the world. It almost sounded like a spoof. Was Athens really ready to organize such a large-scale and costly event every two years? It is still too early to answer that question, but the three young people behind the project – art writers Xenia Kalpaktsoglou and Augustine Zenakos and artist Poka-Yio – seem to be aiming to make Athens part of the contemporary art scene. The Athens Biennial, which will take place in September, is designed as a large, contemporary art event with a changing concept and curatorial team every second year. «Destroy Athens,» which is the title of the first, upcoming biennial, is about overturning stereotypical notions of Athens – the timeless ancient city that lives as an ideal historic place or the noisy contemporary city that sometimes exhausts or frustrates its residents. The Athens Biennial is designed as a multifaceted and ongoing artistic project. It involves events and conferences as well as a collaboration with «artwaveradio,» an online radio station. Another aspect of the Athens biennial project is «a. the athens contemporary art review,» an online monthly magazine that includes art reviews on contemporary art exhibitions held in Athens. In the second issue that was just released, there are also articles on broader themes – such as the distance of contemporary art from public life – as well as interviews with artists, including Christiana Soulou, who is the only Greek artist participating in the upcoming Fourth Berlin Biennial. The online magazine helps give exposure to international contemporary Greek art but also serves as a platform for a new generation of art critics and curators who have emerged over the past few years in Athens. The Greek art world is growing and adding both curators and writers as well as more galleries to its circles. The Athens Biennial can be seen as an offshoot of this growth. Still something of an enigma, it will disclose its potential in the fall.