The Contemporary Greek Art Institute presents the exhibition “Open Archive: Public art from the center of Athens” in Toronto, Canada. The exhibition focuses on public Greek art that has been installed or was proposed for the historical center of the city of Athens, with special reference to the Omonoia–Panepistimiou–Syntagma areas. Ephemera, performances and events that took place in the area are also being shown in an attempt to challenge the preconceptions regarding public art, its monumentality, stability and temporality.
Open Archive showcases photos, video, designs, tests, letters and articles drawn from the collections of the Contemporary Greek Art Institute, the Benaki Museum Archives, the Municipality of Athens Historical Archives, the Zongolopoulos Foundation, The Library of the Hellenic Parliament and from the personal files of artists who were associated with or worked in the specific area. The exhibition proposes an extrovert and open archive of realized projects but also an archive of possibilities, competing visions and alternative settings.
Some of the examples of public art presented in the exhibition were created, installed and to this day remain in public spaces, while some have been destroyed or withdrawn. Other exhibits represent proposals that never reached the final stage, were developed up to the level of a study, or were simply expressed as thought experiments. Shown together, all these artistic interventions create a new experience for the spectator who can now contemplate how urban space is under constant and competitive reconfiguration. The potential, the relocated, the transitory or the ephemeral are thus shown to be not the exception, but the very modalities constituting our relationship with public urban spaces.
The exhibition is an attempt to map the creative process, the public debates around the installation of sculptures as well as the results of competitions, aiming to change the urban fabric. The exhibition’s main objective is to develop an expansive and open archive of public art. An archive that underlines the role political, social and institutional factors play in shaping public art, while also remaining sensitive to how complex the influence of these factors is and how diverse the resistance to them in any given period. With this in mind, contemporary artists Sofia Dona, Georgia Sagri and Arbit City Group were invited to present work that interferes, disrupts and blurs the boundaries between the artistic, curatorial and archival practice.
“Open Archive: Public art from the center of Athens” will be opening on August 12, 7:00 pm at the 8-11 gallery in Toronto. The exhibition is being presented in conversation with the work of Toronto-based artist Derek Liddington under the title “Flesh Marble Leaf and Twig.” The founders of the Toronto-based gallery, one of the top Canadian galleries, proposed to host the Greek art exhibition as an honorary participation at their Art Festival in August.