During the Austerity Epoch, Athens has become a hotspot for art. Many artists incorporate “political upheaval and social frustration,” but such reaction against the economic crisis has transformed Athens into a fertile ground for creativity (Laura Secorun Palet). Differently, architecture needs time to adapt to new conditions and to satisfy societal demands esthetically, functionally and professionally. The Athens Project wants to deals with Art, and the Art Scene of Athens, through the eye of the architect, looking for sources of inspiration, critical thinking and new forms of creativity.
In 1995, long before the crisis started, Antigoni Kavvatha presented an installation at the Galerie 3 in Athens named ‘Gazi 1991-1994.’ The work is the biographical note of the author that narrates her short staying in Gazi, an ex-industrial neighborhood recently regenerated into a leisure and art attraction. The installation is the representation of her room in Voutadon Street at the n. 50: a minimal room with scattered objects – a bed, a door, some shoes – with the walls, hosting canvases of mixed media and charcoal paper works of large dimensions, narrate private episodes of her life alongside with fragments of the city outside. Among this constellation of close and distant memories, a man’s and a girl’s evanescent figures, both present and absent, enrich the iconography, merging the urban history with the fugacity of individual stories, with a projection to today urban condition.
The autobiographical elements of the painting, implied through the photographs of the girl and the male nude looking directly out towards the spectator, encompass in the whole process the presence of successive eras of technology in the soft focus of melted light. The Parthenon of the Golden Age behind the skeletal mesh of the gas factory, illegitimate child of the industrialization of our own century. Overlapping meanings in a bold pictorial statement, where the visible constitutes the Microcosm and the imprint of light the Raw Material. Themis Magriotis, 1995
Kavvatha’s room is an empty and austere primordial box in its modern formulation. Furnished with a minimum, the walls become the interface with the outside through the use of large supports hanged on them that dissolve its solidity. They collect and layer various images, eliminating the depth of the vision by overlapping many planes and views. The background is made by shadows of balconies, curtains, stairs. A second layer collects personal objects, like a piano and a camera, tools that usually frame a landscape. Finally, frames of the industrial landscape of Athens, embedded in the Gazometer, are overlapped together with the face of a child: here personal memories of youth are coupled with the young industrial history of Greece. Although the room looks like an intimate landscape, it narrates one of many lives that populate Athens in a mix of architectural elements, personal objects and the Athenian skyline.