New experience in heart of city

It’s a part of the capital city that is both very «Athenian» as well as mostly unexplored. The area behind Avyssinias Square, where little streets break Ifestou Street (named after Hephaestus, god of the forge) in two, the echos stemming from the downtown bazaar and the cafes on Adrianou Street mix with indie remnants from the 1970s: funky and retro clothes stores and shops selling vinyl records, old newspapers and magazines. This is where, on quiet Normanou Street, rises 2010 Athens. Actually, the term «rises» does not appear to be the most appropriate, as the premises of The Art Foundation (TAF) is far too discreet. While a small, aesthetically impeccable sign provides guidance to those looking for No 5, the facade of the modest neoclassical 19th-century house doesn’t divulge the whole truth. Only once you venture through the old door and take a few steps inside will you reflect on why the best things in life don’t need to make much noise. While TAF might define itself as a restless artistic space with an emphasis on publicity and the promotion of avant-garde artistic production, there are places where the space’s own dynamism is so powerful, leading things in other directions. The place itself, of course, is not enough. It takes people to recognize its potential and invest in it. Charalambos Dermatis and George Georgakopoulos, who both enjoy a long history in the capital’s visual arts scene, decided to breathe life into this magical place and the news is already spreading rapidly via word of mouth. The space, which opened on May 19, currently presents two parallel exhibitions. In the gallery area is an exhibition presenting the new visual arts scene of Vienna, «Flavors of Austria.» The idea here is that each year a different curator will select artists whose work has caught the public’s interest. The subject matter of the second exhibition, which takes place at TAF’s space for ongoing projects, is more or less self-explanatory. This is where 12 artists narrate their own «Short Athenian Stories.» For decades, the courtyard hosted small-scale workshops where artisans repaired radios, frames, metal objects, small pieces of furniture and chandeliers, while also acting as a storage space for bookstores. Though there is no noise coming from these workshops any more, the original structures remain intact and the different spaces maintain the beauty of the patina of time. All 12 artists have left their own ephemeral imprint through a mystical transit running from past to present and vice versa. Participating in the exhibition are: Andreas Voussouras, Dimitris Georgakopoulos, Costas Ioannidis, Coti, Voula Ferentinou, Yiannis Koutroulis, Yiannis Skaltsas, Georgia Damopoulou, Christina Parakente, Kostis Velonis and Eva Nathena. Eventually, the aim of TAF’s creators is to open the foundation to other fields. Coming up later in the month is a series of short film screenings, followed by theater and jazz nights. Also on the program of future events are fashion shows, concerts, publication launches and conferences. And remember, there is no TAF without the courtyard bar, which opens its doors at 7 p.m. The Art Foundation, 5 Normanou, Monastiraki, tel 210.323.8757. Opening hours: Mondays to Sundays from 7 p.m. to midnight. For more information, visit