State of Concept Athens is the first non-profit institution with a permanent location and a yearly programme, to operate in Greece. Founded in 2013 by art critic and curator iLiana Fokianaki and based in the neighbourhood of Koukaki at the centre of Athens, it is an independent platform aiming to foster the appreciation for local and international contemporary art and the growth of artistic and curatorial practice. Operating as a bridge between Athens and the international contemporary art scene, its core interest is to bring to the fore artistic practices that question the current social, economic and political phenomena of Europe and beyond, by addressing these thematics from the location of Greece, existing literally and metaphorically on the borders of West and East. Through the last decade the country has been the profound location where new dilemmas, questions and realisations of the current Western condition have sprung. Living still through a financial crisis that has altered its societal fibre, the country remains a unique topos from where we as cultural practitioners can address, the rethinking of the Western canon and the complexities of localities and their socio-political and economic histories. The institution, since its inception, has been asking questions that relate to the notion of the State and its contemporary condition in the West and beyond, as well as the state of conceptualization of contemporary art and all the nuances it carries. Its exhibitions are formed as chapters that together with the institution itself perform «the State as such», in an effort to address from within an introspection on the functionality and grammar of institutional building, in precarious conditions of peripheral localities.
CHAPTER : THE EUROPEAN CONDITION (2016)
In the current European reality, the concept of a European identity is vaguely defined and seems now almost irrelevant to its citizens. The exhibition chapter “European Condition” looked into aspects of citizenship, unionizing beyond borders, state propaganda and the role of religion in the formation of Europe.
CHAPTER : STATE AFFAIRS (2017 – ongoing)
State Affairs is an exhibition chapter dedicated to artists that work with video and the moving image. It presents artistic practices that focus on thematics unfolding and narrated gradually through several artworks, practices distinguished for their interest in shedding light on historical conditions and how they affect contemporaneity. The practices selected for this exhibition chapter are characterized by an essayistic approach to issues that involve, racism, religion, futurism, post-colonial discourse, nationalism etc., at times blending, documentary, performance and the moving image. The programme aims to address directly current affairs, predicaments, problematics and cul-de-sacs of contemporary living, by at times, summoning the past.
CHAPTER: DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (2018 – ongoing)
This exhibition chapter, supported by the FfAi, is delving into artistic and curatorial practices that investigate the scope of the judicial and research real events that have had societal impacts: court cases and political trials that changed the course of local histories, histories that have divided society or have been erased from the official narratives of the state. It also addresses major strands of political and social theory that propagate social inequalities, such as anti-feminist rhetorics. It further looks into historical periods that have produced particular marginalisation of populations adjacent to certain political positions, such as the anti-communist period that begun after the second World War, by exploring its effect on contemporary political thought, feminist struggles and society at large. Apart from its exhibitions and events, State of Concept has been providing pro bono advice and one-to-ones to art students and artists via appointments since its inception in 2013. We have assisted so far more than 200 young professionals and students from Greece and beyond.
Re-claiming the words used to define women (following on the lecture series from Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam Fall 2019-Spring 2020). Yes, Sir, set up your sail, And row forth with evil hail, for without fail, I will not out of this town, But I have my gossips, everyone, One foot further I will not go. They will not drown, by St. John And I may save their lives! They love me full well, by Christ! But you let them into your boat, Otherwise, row now where you like And get yourself a new wife. The new chapter of programming that commences this September is entitled “Gossips” and is inspired by the 2018 book of Sylvia Federici, entitled Witches, Witch-hunting and Women. This program aims to look at a particular concept -and chapter- of the book that focuses on the term of gossip, and how from a positively associated term, used to describe primarily the comradeship and the creation of a support system among women through meetings and discussions in the home and outside of it, it has today been imprinted in our consciousness with its contemporary meaning, which carries a negative connotation: that of a person transferring rumours and news and talking behind people’s backs. As Federici clarifies at the beginning of that chapter : “Tracing the history of the words used to define and degrade women is a necessary step if we are to understand how gender oppression functions and reproduces itself. The history of “gossip” is emblematic in this context”. Silvia Federici, On Witches, Witch-hunting and Women, 2018, p.35 With an anti-feminist discourse coming from all aspects of conservative voices of society, with anti-abortion laws being re-introduced and women’s rights -defended for decades- contested by far-right politicians, it is extremely crucial in 2020, to address the current status quo in relationship to women’s oppression and even more so, address it through the sphere of culture. This series of programming begun as a curated lecture series by iLiana Fokianaki, for the cultural institution Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, the Netherlands between fall 2019 and summer 2020 (still unfolding due to the COVID19 crisis). The theme will be now developed from September 2020 onwards at State of Concept Athens and aims to bring women together, to re-generate and re-perform the original concept of “the gossip” as a support structure for women’s ideas, thinking processes and exchanges. It also wishes to collectivise feminisms discourses and create a platform through which there can be new utterances to counteract and address anew all the words used to define and degrade women (Federici) and deconstruct and unfold them. Moreover, it aims to offer an open dialogue with its audiences, through case studies, oral testimonies and histories and sharing of non-linear knowledges, breaking epistemic injustices; knowledges that wish to operate contrary to sexist rhetorics and patriarchal ways that we witness in culture and society, by way of practicing and being otherwise, as cultural workers and women.
XEN(I)OS – ONGOING
“Xen(i)os” was inaugurated in September 2019 with Forensic Architecture’s exhibition “Violence, Fast and Slow”. The line of enquiry will be addressing the histories of hospitality and care in relationship to the multi-cultural policies that have defined the profile of the modern West. The thematic wishes to develop further the concept of hospitality in relationship to the Other. The title is addressing the problematics between the binary of guest-host, in a world that is becoming all the more xenophobic. The title further derives from the concept of “Xenios Zeus” one of the prefixes of god Zeus, famous in mythology for his hospitality, but also ironically echoes a governmental special operation of the same name, implemented in 2013 by the greek police. It was an operation that performed random checks on immigrants and refugees by arresting and detaining them to check their papers. During the same year a report by Human Rights Watch estimated 85.000 persons being stopped during the operation simply based on their appearance and skin colour, of which only 6% were illegally in Greece. The title of the program also refers and includes the word “xenos” that in greek means foreigner, the non-kin. The word has been also the title of the Greek translation of the seminal book of Albert Camus “L’etranger”, a book from which we will be drawing inspirations from. Looking into the concept of Greekness (and the questions that arise in contemporary Greece on who is the contemporary Greek) will also be another focus of this chapter with a public program announced early 2020. With recent examples in Greece of anti-Semite MPs being appointed in government, or anti-muslim comments made by ministers of several parliamentary parties throughout the years, and a widened discriminative and racist discourse augmenting in public discourse, we feel the need as an art institution to provide a safe haven for democratic and inter-sectional ideas to all our audiences and to host artists and cultural practitioners that respect the values of inclusivity, equality and respectful co-existence.