The visual artist-director: Working without support

Alexandros Avranas, born in 1977, is one of the most interesting new voices in the shifting crossover terrain between art film and commercial cinema. He has had exhibitions and won prizes in Greece, Germany, Denmark and Italy. He is making his first feature-length film in collaboration with producer Yiannis Iakovidis (Black Orange Productions). He left the Athens School of Fine Arts (ASKT) for Berlin, where he completed his studies in sculpture and got a postgraduate degree. The picture he paints of the art scene is not a pretty one. «If you don’t make a splash immediately, which is very difficult and not common, you have to go and work in bar or something like that,» he said. «It is not by chance that in Greece many ASKT graduates become secondary school teachers or try to get university appointments. Who can blame them?» He himself is not employed in fields unrelated to art. «I was lucky, because the first person who helped me in Greece was gallerist Zina Athanassiadou, when I participated in Art-Athina 04,» he said. «Then I took part in various exhibitions. I won a Greek state scholarship, collectors got interested and bought my work. In Berlin, [an important new collector] bought an entire installation of mine, ‘My Little Red Riding Hood,’ and recommended me to leading curators and galleries. But my basic support is still my family.» And in Berlin? «The competition is tremendous,» he said. «On the other hand, there are support mechanisms that you rarely find in Greece, such as sponsors, foundations, organizations and scholarships.» Is there anything in Athens that is easier for a young artist than in Berlin? «It may be easier to work with a gallery and show your work,» he said. «They are more open, perhaps more ready to take a risk. At the same time, it is very different to collaborate with an Athenian gallery than to be part of a Berlin gallery. In Berlin the gallery becomes your manager. It promotes you, making sure you go to major museum exhibitions and other important events throughout Europe and in America.»