A city seeks its own artistic scene

Athens may still be the city with the greatest number of important and costly art exhibitions, yet over the past several years Thessaloniki has made efforts to claim its own artistic scene and distinctive cultural profile. In that effort, the prestigious Costakis collection of the Russian avant-garde that is owned by the State Museum of Contemporary Art has been very useful. It has given clout and a certain international exposure to the city’s artistic scene. In the field of contemporary art, a series of exhibitions have aimed at making Thessaloniki a cultural center for the Balkans and at cultivating a lively scene with a reputation for projects by young artists and artists-in-residency programs. «Action Field Kodra,» which opened at the beginning of this month for the sixth consecutive year, is one such venture that promotes the work of young artists. It is organized by ArtBox in collaboration with the Forum of European Cultural Exchanges and the Cultural Organization of the Municipality of Kalamaria. Held outside the city center in the former Kodra military camp, it is a project of varied and numerous contemporary art exhibitions. It also includes an artists-in-residency program, «Borderlines,» curated by Pier Luigi Tazzi (co-curator of Documenta IX in Kassel). «Borderlines» invited two artists from Greece and one each from Turkey, Albania and Egypt and asked them to make works that addressed the notion of social segregation. In the rest of the exhibitions, the majority of the works were for the most part site-specific, something that gives the entire venture a certain freshness and spontaneity. Examples of site-specific exhibitions include «ProTaseis,» curated by Sotiris Bahtetzis and Anne-Laure Oberson, in which 18 Greek artists made works inspired by the space of Kodra itself. Kodra may not necessarily be the place to look for exceptional works or art from established artists. The excitement of the project lies in the fact that it acts as a meeting ground for artists and curators of different backgrounds and in that it has a workshop-like character. In the exhibition «Theirland,» for example, the four participating artists from France camped out in Kodra and made works using water and materials drawn from the surroundings. In Kodra, it was also interesting to see certain artists in the role of curators: Effie Halivopoulou curated «RoomsToLet» and Artemis Potamianou – who has worked as a curator in large exhibitions – asked artists to make works inspired by Joseph Kosuth’s work. To September 17. Info: