If 2011 was the year of protesting and dreaming dangerously, 2013 prompts us to think responsively by coming up with useful ideas and suggestions. At a time when the financial crisis in Greece and elsewhere has reached its peak, the 4th Athens Biennale (AB4) cannot but respond to this bleak situation through a pertinent question: Now what? While Monodrome (AB3) attempted to historically reflect upon the causes of the crisis, this year the Biennale will set out to explore creative alternatives to a state of bankruptcy.
Pondering this turning point, AB4 puts into play the collaborative process in producing an exhibition. Titled AGORA, this project exhibition reflects on the way a biennial has to operate under the current socio-economic circumstances.
One of the primary tasks of AGORA is to highlight and discuss the shortcomings of economy. Using the derelict building of the former Athens Stock Exchange as its main venue, AB4 suggests AGORA not only as a place of exchange and interaction, but also as an ideal setting for critique. Contrary to an idealized image of the ancient agora, this new AGORA points to a radical re-orientation in thinking – one that entails judgment, ruptures and conflict.
As an ambiguous metaphor of a space under contestation where multiple theses and doctrines emerge, this AGORA cannot be taken for granted: it aims for pleasure and purpose; it opts for the carnivalesque and the ambiguous, for that which is just as significant and just as insignificant.
AGORA draws on the notions of the assembly and the assemblage. Conceived both as a living organism and as an exquisite corpse, it is formulated through a succession of objects, collaborative events, performances, roundtable discussions, film screenings, workshops and educational programs. In AGORA works and theses suggest a guide for what we urgently need at this particular moment: an engaged subjective position, an unearthing of timely attitudes, a reevaluation of artistic strategies, a deconstruction of mystifying narratives.
AB4 will be realized by a nameless and short-lived group of artists, curators, theorists and practitioners in the creative industries. AGORA is thus a collective experiment, the result of a process of fermentation between professionals from different backgrounds. What matters most to those who participate in such an experiment is a shared sense of responsibility and an urge to co-produce meaning.
4th ATHENS BIENNALE 2013 AGORA
29 September – 1 December | preview 28 September
Former Athens Stock Exchange, Sofokleous 8-10