Captivating, for a certain few

Any attempt at a precise definition of the 2:13 festival, on at the Small Music Theater in Athens from today through Saturday, would probably result in failure. The festival runs contrary to customary ways – in every sense. Though 20 artists from various parts of the world will be taking part, this annual event, now several years old, does not take place at a large venue, tickets are not expensive, and it steers clear of promoters, publicity, and managers. Instead, it is held at a venue which fits approximately 50 people, and if I have the right to recommend this festival or not, I would opt for the latter. The masses would not fit, and the event’s proceedings don’t concern the overwhelming majority either. If, however, experimental video or music stands as the meaning of your life, or is a domain that truly appeals to you, then be prepared to turn up early for a good chance of getting into the pint-sized venue on any of the three nights to catch performances by some exceptionally interesting artists. A good example is the Japanese artist Sachiko M, whose electronic sound is as minimal as it can get. «It’s a sound that’s very close to silence,» remarked Nikos Veliotis, a renowned experimental cellist who founded the 2:13 festival, and is its artistic director and organizer. Sachiko M, who performs tomorrow, uses the tonalities of her sampler – usually used by musicians to control the flow of sound waves – to produce music of extremely low intensity and high density. Another standout act at the festival, also Friday, is the Norwegian trio Huntsville, which will perform using a banjo, Indian rhythm boxes, and a laptop. The act’s experimental pop music combines elements of folk with repetitive melodies, musical frequencies and noise. Performing tonight, the British sound engineer Lee Patterson, a pioneering figure in sound design, records highly intricate details amid urban environments. He creates and presents – live – urban sounds which he bolsters with the addition of various other unlikely sounds into the overall mix, such as the noise produced by fireworks or frying eggs, for the delivery of robust sound experiences. The festival’s video section, which opens all three nights, will include a short film, «Antipasti,» by Constantina Voulgari. She took part in the recent Thessaloniki International Film Festival with a film titled «Valse Sentimentale.» Other projections will include «One,» a film by John Bisset, the British founder of the 2:13 festival, which was launched in the UK and then given a second post in Berlin before Veliotis started its Athens edition eight years ago. Manipulating time, Bisset’s «One,» which lasts exactly two minutes and 13 seconds, shows a clock’s hands counting one minute. On closing night, Saturday, attendants will be invited to take part in a game titled «Koulohertz» – a wordplay on the Greek work «Kouloheri,» or slot machine. Using a virtual slot machine designed by local producer and experimental music artist Coti K, members of the audience will get to pick successive lineups – comprising the festival’s musicians – for performances lasting, you guessed it, two minutes and 13 seconds each. «This festival began at a gallery in London, when somebody noticed that the clock on the wall was stuck showing 2:13. It’s fun to see how people handle time and how time behaves. This festival makes Athens part of an informal network, in many European cities, that exchanges ideas concerning experimental art,» said Veliotis. «It’s particularly important to note that these small festivals are usually organized by the artists themselves, and not producers,» he continued. The eighth 2:13 festival in Athens, dubbed the «No Spaghetti Edition,» also includes performances by: Michael Francis Duch from Norway, Alessandra Rombola from Italy, and Cranc, a trio comprising Veliotis and two British collaborators, Rhodri Davies and Angharad Davies. Film projections will include work by Erika Matsunami, Elise Ladoue and Felicia Atkinson, Mike Celona, Diego Chamy and Vered Nethe, Dai Jenkins, Leandro Ribeiro, Maria Ioanna Xanthaki, Thanos Chrysakis, Constantinos Chondros, and Babis Makridis. For further information, see