The British Council supports ten artists from the UK taking part in documenta 14 in Athens
The documenta art exhibition is one of the most prestigious cultural events and international meetings worldwide, taking place every five years in Kassel, Germany.
Adam Szymczyk is the Artistic Director of documenta 14, which is taking place not only in Kassel but also in Athens for the very first time this year (Athens: 8 April–16 July 2017, Kassel: 10 June–17 September 2017).
Over 160 international artists will exhibit works newly conceived for documenta 14 at venues across the city, among them more than 40 public institutions. The spaces and places of documenta 14 in Athens include museums, cinemas, theatres, libraries, archives, public squares, parks and residential buildings, while a major portion of the exhibition spans the following four institutions:
- Athens Conservatoire (Odeion Athinon)
- Athens School of Fine Arts (Nikos Kessanlis Exhibition Hall, Pireos Street)
- Benaki Museum (Benaki Museum of Islamic Art, Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika Gallery, Mentis Center for the preservation of traditional textile techniques & 138 Pireos Street Annexe)
- EMST National Museum of Contemporary Art
The documenta 14 team has been working together with partners and supporters on collaborative projects over the past four years in order to establish a presence in the Greek capital by enabling experimentation, polyphony, audience participation and public dialogue throughout the duration of the exhibition.
As part of documenta 14 the British Council’s Visual Arts team and the British Council Greece are delighted to support ten artists from the UK who are presenting at the exhibition. Being part of documenta 14 is a unique opportunity for the British Council delegates to showcase their projects and initiatives in the arts field, as well as network with stakeholders and key players in the arts world, and establish stronger institutional links between UK, Greece and Europe.
About the UK artists
- Akinbode Akinbiyi – born in 1946 in Oxford to Nigerian parents – is a street photographer with a profound interest in the ‘everydaylifeness’ of human beings and the poetry of the quotidian. His work Passageways, Involuntary Narratives, and the Sound of Crowded Spaces (2015–17) is exhibited at the Athens Conservatoire.
- Rasheed Araeen aims his practice towards forms of social art reaching for transformative collaboration. His installation Shamiyaana–Food for Thought: Thought for Change (2016–17) at Kotzia Square invites people to sit together under colorful canopies inspired by the shamiana (a Pakistani traditional wedding tent) and enjoy a meal based on recipes from around the Mediterranean, which have been cooked in collaboration with Organisation Earth.
- Ross Birrell’s The Athens–Kassel Ride: The Transit of Hermes (2017) was inspired by Aimé Tschiffely’s trek from Buenos Aires to New York (1925–28) and conceived in collaboration with Peter van der Gugten and David Wewetzer. It is a 3000 km equestrian ride across Europe linking Athens and Kassel, the two cities of documenta 14, performed by a participatory human-equine ensemble over 100 days. Departing from Athens, they make their way northwards through Greece and several other countries, traversing a line which traces the historical and contemporary tensions of Europe.
- Lucien Castaing-Taylor – born in Liverpool in 1966 – is an experimental filmmaker who takes a de-centered, non-anthropocentric approach to the visual practice of the moving image. Along with Swiss artist Véréna Paravel, he is premiering two new film installations at documenta 14: Somniloquies (2017), in which a camera moves over sleeping, unguarded naked bodies while a soundtrack relays the sleep talk, nocturnal speculations, and orated dreams of Dion McGregor, a gay American songwriter; and a second installation focusing on the controversial figure of Issei Sagawa, who gained notoriety in 1981 when, as a graduate student in Paris, he murdered a fellow student and engaged in acts of cannibalism.
- Theo Eshetu was born in London in 1958 and trained as a photographer before concentrating on the art of video. In recent years, he has focused primarily on video installation and his work Atlas Fractured (2017) presented at documenta 14 is yet another example of his use of the medium’s expressive potential to explore popular images, even clichés of culture, which have animated his imagination since his earliest video artworks.
- Douglas Gordon, an artist known for redefining expectations for the moving image and the relationship between sound, text, image and the human portrait, is contributing a 97-minute film/projected image installation entitled I had nowhere to go (2016) to the exhibition. In the film, experimental filmmaker Jonas Mekas is heard via voice-over reading passages from his 1991 autobiography describing his life as a teenager in occupied Lithuania during World War II, while his image intermittently appears on the screen. Gordon’s film portrait of Jonas Mekas continues the artist’s practice as an innovative – and to some extent iconoclastic – portraitist.
- David Harding is a committed artist-teacher, born in Edinburgh in 1937. He often produces works of art made in consultation and collaboration with a town’s residents – a practice which became known as ‘new genre public art’. Music and singing have always been important for Harding and the word ‘orchestrate’ is key in understanding his approach to making art; this musical term which entails openness and the celebration of the potential harmony and dissonance of cultural difference resonates across the social, political, and pedagogical dimensions of his practice. This is also the case with his installation for documenta 14 If you do not love me … (2017) from Samuel Beckett’s poem Cascando (1936), presented at Rizari park in Athens.
- Susan Hiller’s practice takes us to the edges of the known world, to locations where our usual ways of mapping become hesitant. Language is central to Hiller’s work and The Last Silent Movie (2007–08), a two-channel video installation in black and white, invokes language itself as a cultural construction that contains and generates worlds. In this work, we hear recordings of extinct and endangered tongues; each language is dying or the words are uttered by speakers who are now dead. Technology allows the voices of the dead to be heard and thus these voices return to the living to articulate the experiences of the worlds that these languages describe and contain.
- Lala Meredith Vula, a Goldsmiths College of Art graduate, left London in 1988 for the Albanian countryside, where she began to photograph haystacks in an ongoing project that has lasted almost three decades. These haystacks are considered by Meredith-Vula ‘the quintessential artwork’ and she continues to index their persistent presence. Photography individuates haystacks and turns them into contemporary, documentable subjects, bearing witness to historic events that took place in those troubled regions and highlighting their significance. A selection of these photographs is exhibited at the National Museum of Contemporary Art as part of documenta 14.
- Rosalind Nashashibi is a London-based artist, born in Croydon in 1973. Living matter and active surfaces abound in her films through which she addresses the question of confinement and ‘enclosure’. Her video Vivian’s Garden (2017) features the Jewish female painter of large-scale abstractions Vivian Suter, self-exiled in Panajachel, Guatemala. Her second contribution to documenta 14 is the film Why Are You Angry? (2017) in collaboration with Lucy Skaer, which revisits Gauguin’s images of women in Tahiti and focuses on the problems and also the potential of imagining women through his particular gaze by showing footage of Tahitian women in their everyday lives.
The full programme is available on the documenta 14 website.
For further information, please contact Maria Papaioannou:
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