Exhibition duration: September 24 – November 28, 2021
The 7th Athens Biennale -one of the largest international contemporary art events- was inaugurated on September 24, with this year’s title being ECLIPSE. The exhibition is co-curated by the Omsk Social Club and Larry Ossei-Mensah, under the artistic direction of Poka-Yio, and features artists based in North and South America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe, many of whom will be exhibiting in Greece for the first time. In fact, 32 of the works are new productions created specifically for the 7th Athens Biennale, with the support of Onassis Culture, giving the artists the opportunity to exhibit and promote their work in Athens.
The long and systematic actions undertaken by Onassis Culture, the inventive and innovative activities, and the alternative proposals have contributed decisively to Athens’s emergence in recent years as a highly important cultural destination, and to re-establishing our country, together with NEON, as a cradle of modern culture. The institution has now been recognized as an invitation for avant-garde artists and modern cultural production in general, with a global reach.
The exhibitions of the 7th Athens Biennale are accompanied by numerous performances and cultural events, as well as an extremely elegant catalogue.
This year’s theme raises issues of obscurity and revelation, without remaining within the simple binary of light and darkness. It thus attempts to highlight this sense that we are going through a period of transition, insecurity and uncertainty; a state of flux that makes our perception of reality increasingly blurred. In other words, ECLIPSE deals with all the social, political and intellectual changes that are taking place worldwide, attempting to express the “spirit of the times” and at the same time is calling us to imagine the multitude of possible futures. It also addresses issues of identity, history and cultural complexity, and aims to rekindle intercultural dialogue, to be provocative and motivate action. At ECLIPSE, contemporary art is used as a vehicle for rediscovering and redefining ourselves and the world around us and seeks to transport and expand art beyond the exhibition space. As the Omsk Social Club pointed out during the Press Conference, through reflection “the viewer becomes part of the work of art and the exhibition, and every discussion that takes place in this context becomes a part of it”.
The 7th Athens Biennale is co-financed by the Hellenic Republic and the European Union through the Regional Operational Programme of “Attica” in the framework of NSRF 2014-2020, performs under the auspices of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports and is realised in partnership with Onassis Culture. AB7: ECLIPSE is produced by the Athens Biennale.
Former Department Store FOKAS, 41 Stadiou Str.
Former Santaroza Courthouse, 48 Stadiou & Arsaki Str.
Justice Square, Arsaki & Panepistimiou Str.
Schliemann-Mela Hall, 46 Panepistimiou Str.
Onassis Stegi, 107-109 Syngrou Avenue
Ta Nea Xysta | Navine G. Khan-Dossos | Former Santaroza Courthouse
September 24, 25 & 26 – 15:00
Khan-Dossos presents Ta Nea Xysta, a real-time site-specific mural painting that traces the walls of the Santaroza Courthouse. Etched in grey and white by the artist and her assistants, the mural replays and responds to the traditional design work known as xysta, originating from a village on the island of Chios in Greece. Updating the traditional method with current signs and symbols, she creates this ethno-mathematical painting resembling textile.
with Violence and Kirsten Kilponen | KAYA (Kerstin Brätsch & Debo Eilers) | Schliemann-Mella Hall
September 24 – 17:00
In a durational performance, where people can come and go, KAYA creates a sanctuary space. The character of the bear is present, as a kind of “healer” with a giant LED light necklace being charged on a “charging station”. A leather wall divides the space for privacy and intimacy, while the short video clips from “baerenzwinger” appear on and off and by moving the projector around in the space. The interaction with the audience is multilayered and within KAYA’s sanctuary space a cleansing ritual takes place.
Live Video Gaming | YESSi PERSE | Former Department Store Fokas
September 24 – 20:00
For two days YESSi PERSE will be present for the audience’s introduction to a live gaming experience, promoting visitors’ interaction with this hyperstitional interface that allows its wearers to enter alternative narratives. Their work Χenomilitia: The Antifa Chronicles is a response to Donald Trump’s 2020 tweet which read, “The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization”. The installation/video game created by YESSi PERSE in collaboration with Shell Lucky Ocean directly responds and looks critically at the rising right-wing populace and the demonising of the Antifa movement.
The New Elementals | Ayesha Tan-Jones | Schliemann-Mella Hall
September 24 – 20:00
Ayesha Tan Jones performs an energy specific decomposition ritual. Sculpting local clay through movement, responding to the fluidity of water; sound, vocals and their body, they will (de)compose a semi improvised audio visual experience. In this site-specific sci-fi queer Greek opera, Tan-Jones directs their characters through the scenes that explore their own trans/non‑binary identity through eco-fetish mythologies and into a fictional pop idol bootcamp with near apocalyptic aftermaths. They take the viewers on a journey through soul space, exploring the elements of “optimystic dystopia” in the Athenian landscape.
Open Mic | Justice Square
September 24 & 26 – 20:30
For two nights locals are invited to share testimonies and recollections of their life experiences in an open space of collective sharing. These testimonies, serve as an amalgamation of memory, history, experiences and daily “rituals” from a multiplicity of voices that inhabit the city and as testament of the transforming nature of the city of Athens. Open Mic nights welcome all people willing to participate in this collective “cleansing” procedure which promotes free and limitless expression.
Mestisa Oliha is a 21-year-old who was born and raised in Athens, with a Filipino and Nigerian background. She studies Communication, with majors in Cinema and Journalism. Her main interest is video editing, but she hopes to engage with stand-up comedy someday.
Jessica Onyinyechi Anosike was born in 1996, and is a mother with one son. She is studying to be a journalist and teaches AFROfitness, a kind of dance that combines aerobic fitness with traditional and contemporary African movement.
ECLIPSATRIX EXUVIA | Huntrezz Janos | Former Department Store Fokas
September 24 – 21:00, September 25 – 13:30
Huntrezz’ performance takes place in a virtual amphitheatre as well as in the exhibition space, which is framed with/ by various sculptural objects. Wearing a motion capture suit, all her dance movements are being screened and streamed. The audience is invited to wander and freely explore the online environment and its elements, and then the artist appears “as an avatar adorned in stylized armor” rhyming:
Unveiled biennale, holy grail eclipse
golly exalted derailed leaderships
post folly prevailing sailing space ships
hailing from Cali inhale post-Pokalypse (…)
Astrit Ismaili | Astrit Ismaili | Former Department Store Fokas
September 24 – 22:00
Astrit Ismaili performs as their alter ego, “Miss Kosovo”. Inspired by Kosovo’s transition from part of Yugoslavia to an independent state, “Miss Kosovo” is a fictional figure drawn from their pop-operette work “MISS”, that represents Kosovo’s transition from part of Yugoslavia to an independent state, acting as testimony of intense bodily experience and transformation.
Live Tarot Reading Performance + soundcheck @ AB7 | Marissa Malik & Yeshe Bahamon-Beesley | Former Department Store Fokas
September 24 – 22:15
Eclipses, planets sitting in their detriment, and celestial sub-spaces. Malik will present a tarot-reading performance for AB7: ECLIPSE. In this sonic lecture, Marissa Malik and Bahamon-Beesley weave together a meditative experience for audiences to reflect on how our terrestrial experiences tie in with cosmological journeys. Combining academic analysis with tarot reading and the creation of soundscapes inspired by the artists’ shared Latin American heritage, “DESENTERRADA” explores astrology and divination through a re-contextualised historic lens, while directly translating messages from the planets in this current moment.
Reverse Synergy | Live Video Gaming | the Mycological Twist | Former Department Store Fokas
September 25 – 15:00
“As a player you are both the creator and spectator of the narrative.” For AB7: ECLIPSE, the Mycological Twist activate their installation Reverse Synergy (2021) with one live and one online event, where artists, theorists and visitors are invited to participate in the game and to explore the different perspectives of (online) co-existence. The live event will be simultaneously broadcasted online via live streaming. Their long game experience in the online multiplayer game ECO explores alternative aspects of the dynamics of digital communities and gaming culture and customized by the Mycological Twist for the Athens Biennale, it will exist online and it will be open for anyone who wishes to connect to it.
In Heaven | Sofia Giovannetti | Former Department Store Fokas
September 25 – 18:00
During the AB7: ECLIPSE Sofia Giovannitti & Tourmaline present us a multilayered event; In Heaven: An Alternate Reality Game film premiere, followed by a Q&A between them and an in-person reading of an excerpt from Giovannitti’s book in progress “Working Girl for Verso” (2023) on art, sex, and capitalism. The film In Heaven: An Alternate Reality Game aestheticizes the materially porous boundary between the art and sex industries. Formally indistinguishable from escort advertising, the film invites the viewer to participate in an “Alternate Reality Game” via studio visit, a conceptual work unfolding from the viewer’s willingness to acknowledge the socio-erotic and confessional labor demanded of precarious artists as labor. This film and subsequent game offer collectors’ access to the private sphere wherein value is produced, foregrounding explicit transactions as a mode of ethical desire fulfillment. In Heaven and its satellite actions seeks to relocate escort advertising into the festival, museum, and gallery, responding to ongoing US criminalization and surveillance efforts to destroy existing advertising venues, particularly online.
Film Directed by Sophia Giovannitti & Produced by Tourmaline (2021)
The Last Judgement – Reloaded | Nektarios Pappas| Former Department Store Fokas
September 25 – 19:00, October 2 & 3 – 19:45
The Last Judgement – Reloaded performance by Nektarios Pappas is anchored by his sound sculpture Pandemonium. Exploring the themes of fear of artistic critique and death as an end to creation, the artist illustrates his desire to create situations based on past stories and current politics to push the public to reimage and rigorously question contemporary reality. Extracts from the performance’s audio and the installation will also be active during the exhibition.
The Feminine, The Feminine, The Feminine Ha II | as they lay w/Abdu Ali + Markele Cullins | Schliemann-Mella Hall
September 25 – 19:20
September 26 – 19:00
as they lay take over the former athenian meeting point, the “Aegean Doughnuts” pastry shop and they curate the space presenting us a series of lecture-performances under the title Soft & Solid: Fugitive Harmonies in Pursuit of Home; Within this context, the parameters and potentials of collective sharing and sanctuary spaces are being explored, in a similar way “that clubs, churches, and other cultural centers concentrate collective visions of joy, spirituality, and liberation”.
Extractor Game Night | Simon Denny
26 Σεπτεμβρίου – 17:00 | Former Santaroza Courthouse
2 Οκτωβρίου – 18:00 | Schliemann-Mella Hall
3 Οκτωβρίου – 19:00 | Schliemann-Mella Hall
Denny attends the Opening of AB7 along with a game master and host “Game Night Extractor”, based on his playable artwork Extractor, a dystopic interpretation of the classic Australian sheep-farming game Squatter. Ten players will experience the game which models the extractive tendencies of the data industry in the form of a board game, asking players to adopt the corporate goals and strategies behind online platforms. There will be two following game nights, led by the game master alone, where five players each time will have the opportunity to enter the world of Extractor.
Performative Lecture | Taka Taka | Former Department Store Fokas
October 2 – 18:00
How can the drag mothering structures of care be an encounter for other contexts?
Taka Taka gives the performative lecture Mothers Mothering Mothers beginning from their personal experience of being mothered and the tools and strategies used for drag-mothering the kids of the Drag House of Hopelezz and the Drag King House of Løsbois. They continue explaining their academic research focus on how to harness the potential of drag mothering as a catalyst and agent for art education, while in the second part they play with expectations of/and identity through character constructions, mapping archetypes.
Oracle Talk | Problem Hip Area: Fat Femininity as Treason in Modern Greek Culture | Sofia Apostolidou
October 2 – 18:30
Bodily imaginaries, like the ‘body politic’, have powerfully shaped conceptions of the Nation. At the same time, nation-building is produced and sustained by normative fantasies of the feminine body. This talk explores representations of fat femininities in Greek popular culture as evidence of aspirations for modernity and Europeanness. Representations of fatness are not only contextualized by cultural specificities but can also play a central role in the formation of national identity narratives. Where discourses around women’s bodies and the Nation are usually around tropes of motherhood, Apostolidou is arguing that performing eurocentric slenderness is also a part of the Nation’s demands especially in countries where belonging to Europeanness and Westerness is contested.
Sofia Apostolidou is a member of the Research Training Group “Minor Cosmopolitanisms” and a joint PhD candidate at the University of Potsdam/University of Melbourne. She was a founding member of the activist group the “Political Fatties”, with whom she has published the collection “Fatties: Aspects of Fatness as a Political Identity”, and organised conferences, workshops and performances in Athens, Thessaloniki, Berlin, and Amsterdam. In 2019 she published the article “Weighing Posthumanism: Fatness and Contested Humanity” (co-authored with Dr. Jules Sturm) in the Journal of Social Inclusion, and her chapter on fat femininity, modernity and national Greek identity is included in the Routledge International Handbook of Fat Studies (2021).
Soft & Solid: Fugitive Harmonies in Pursuit of Home | as they lay w/Abdu Ali + Markele Cullins | Schliemann-Mella Hall
October 2 & 3, 20:00
as they lay take over the former athenian meeting point, the “Aegean Doughnuts” pastry shop and they curate the space presenting us a series of lecture-performances under the title Soft & Solid: Fugitive Harmonies in Pursuit of Home;
Within this context, the parameters and potentials of collective sharing and sanctuary spaces are being explored, in a similar way “that clubs, churches, and other cultural centres concentrate collective visions of joy, spirituality, and liberation”.
Performance | Julian Weber | Justice Square
October 3 – 18:00
What does a dance that wants to seduce an unknown alien body look like?
How is the dancer’s body shaped by this attempt?
Weber presents a three hour-long performance, along with a performer that dances, sings and works with instruments, influenced by his research for his work EXTRA (2019). During the performance, he studies the genre of science-fiction from a choreographic perspective, the construction of the unknown, models of identification, cross-species relationships and their potential for the development of contemporary mating dances. Using the potential of sci-fi to question current subject positions, Weber aspires to present new and different subject constructions that do not necessarily correspond to the norm. The outcome of his research is the development of mating dances that use the power of attraction and imagination as a motor to gain the attention of a potential extraterrestrial audience.
Online Video Gaming | the Mycological Twist | Online
October 9 – 15:00
“As a player you are both the creator and spectator of the narrative.”
For AB7: ECLIPSE, the Mycological Twist activate their installation Reverse Synergy (2021) with one live and one online event, where artists, theorists and visitors are invited to participate in the game and to explore the different perspectives of (online) co-existence. The live event will be simultaneously broadcasted online via live streaming. Their long game experience in the online multiplayer game ECO explores alternative aspects of the dynamics of digital communities and gaming culture and customized by the Mycological Twist for the Athens Biennale, it will exist online and it will be open for anyone who wishes to connect to it.
App Launch: ENDYMION/: Chapter 3: Moonset Soon, Post Blood Moon, Orionids Meteor Shower | Valinia Svoronou | Online
October 21 & 22 – 19:00
Svoronou launches the last chapter of ENDYMION/: Chapter 3: Moonset Soon, Post Blood Moon, Orionids Meteor Shower. This augmented reality stargazing application reveals a story alongside 2020-2021 celestial events, informed by various myths surrounding the zodiac constellations as well as their use as a means of navigation across the centuries. The underlying narrative of the app takes the ancient Greek myth of Endymion as a point of departure to explore romantic ideas in relation to the contemporary world. Using the tools of astronomy, Svoronou creates a node where mythologies across time and geographical boundaries converge with scientific observation. Svoronou creates a kind of intuitive navigation-reading, where zodiac myths are understood as escape plans, distractions, detours, and wanderings.
The app is available to download: App Store, Google Play
The New Infinity Athens | Onassis Culture, the Eugenides Foundation, Athens Biennale, Berliner Festspiele | The Eugenides Foundation’s New Digital Planetarium
November 4, 5 & 6 – 10:00
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