CULTURE

Ambitious new plans for this year’s Art Athina fair

This year’s Art Athina – the annual contemporary art fair of Athens, which this year is scheduled to take place at the end of May in the Helexpo exhibition center – is being touted by its new organizers as a promising and dynamic event that will help put Athens on the international map of contemporary art fairs. An event of the Panhellenic Association of Art Galleries, it is organized this year for the first time by W-ART (Michalis Argyrou is general director of the fair and Christos Savvides the artistic director). To distinguish the Athens event from the cluster of art fairs sprouting up around the world, its organizers say they are keeping the artistic standards high by including just a small number of select galleries. Among the objectives is to increase the number of visitors and to boost the interest of Greek and international art collectors in Greek art. The organizers also wish to enhance the cultural, not just the commercial, aspect of the art fair by organizing a great number of parallel events, panel discussions and projects that will bring together specialists in the field. An ambitious, rich program that has just been announced includes an exhibition at the Benaki Museum on contemporary art from Russia and the Baltic countries (curated by Viktor Misiano), two projects by the Guerrilla Girls (curated by Artemis Potamianou), a multidisciplinary project on contemporary Greek art (curated by Nadia Argyropoulou) and an exhibition on video art (curated by Marina Athanasiadou). Russia will be Art Athina’s special guest. This is the first time that Russia has been invited by an international contemporary art fair. The exhibition on the Russian contemporary art scene will be held in a separate section. Some of the Russia’s top collectors will attend. In «Open Plan» – another project included in the Art Athina – curators Sotiris Bachtetzis and Cecilia Canziani will select works from the artists represented by the galleries participating in Art Athina. One of the most interesting projects that Art Athina’s organizers have designed is the Collector’s Club (curator Thaleia Stefanidou is in charge), an exclusive club aimed at initiating executives and other high-ranking professionals into contemporary art. It is an important step toward increasing sales and rejuvenating the milieu of art collectors in Greece. International networking is another priority and the collaboration with the London and Paris-based Brunswick Arts office has been used to that effect. The Ministry of Culture will subsidize the event with -200,000 this year and another -200,000 next year. This is the largest subsidy from the Greek state to Art Athina so far. Art Athina 2007 sounds like a driven, ambitious event with clear objectives and a solid structure. Although it has its adversaries, it is most probably going to help create new interest in contemporary Greek art. Art Athina 2007 international art fair, from May 31 to June 3 at Helexpo on Kifissias Avenue. Info: www.art-athina.com.