Artworks at the conservatory

«Which is the way to the Museum of Contemporary Art?» The woman who stepped out of the Athens State Orchestra offices didn’t know. But at the end of a long National Conservatory corridor, we saw some human-size dolls wearing men’s costumes. They were part of an installation by Vadim Zakharov which had received a lot of attention at last year’s Thessaloniki Biennale. The entrance to the museum’s new home turned out to be on Rigillis Street, opposite the New Democracy offices. The National Museum of Contemporary Art has moved yet again. From the Athens Concert Hall it has now gone to the National Conservatory, until work at the former Fix factory is completed, something that will happen in 2010, as recently announced by Minister of Culture Michalis Liapis. The new temporary housing appears to be a great improvement and much better suited to the museum’s needs. The conservatory had many unused halls that were renovated and now emit a museum feeling. The work that has been done is very good and congratulations are in order for museum director Anna Kafetsi, who has not tired of moving around all these years. The overall cost of transforming the conservatory halls is as high as 400,000 euros, while the minister of culture has pledged to provide a further 400,000. The good news is that the museum is now able to hold two large exhibitions at the same time, while presenting part of its permanent collection. Another important development is the creation of the «media lounge,» which can host smaller displays from the museum’s new media collection. The displays can also be viewed online. The new temporary residence was inaugurated by two exhibitions by two internationally acclaimed foreign artists, David Claerbout and Ulrich Ruckriem. Claerbout was born in Belgium in 1969. He belongs to the younger generation of video artists who experiment with the concept of time. He depicts the passing of time through natural phenomena such as sunsets, shadows and clouds, but contemporary architecture also features prominently in his work. The artist lives and works in Antwerp and Berlin. In Athens, he is presenting eight video installations from 1996 to the present, with both static and moving images that create a kind of photography in motion with poetic touches. German Ulrich Ruckriem is one of Europe’s most important sculptors. Born in 1938, he became well known for his monumental sculptures made out of granite, dolomite and other rocks. His Athens exhibition, however, features drawings of his that are in some way connected with his work. He has created a series of variations with paper, using a geometric vocabulary. Both displays will run to the end of November. In October, the honored artist of the month will be Stephen Antonakos, who will present his work «The Journey.»