Studio 14 at Documenta 14, Athens

Giulia Piscitelli, Ritratto dell’evangelista san Matteo (Portrait of the Evangelist Saint Matthew, 2016), gold leaf on paper, 136 × 95,6 cm

 

Studio 14 is a research and a workplace driven by a multiplicity of different subjects; capable of giving rise to certain configurations; a process involving the fields of art, education, and politics; and oriented towards the forms of knowledge that circulate and are produced in those fields. The project uses the institutions of contemporary art to measure original openings and conflictual slippages. Its themes of investigation foster a wide-ranging game of mutual exchanges, converging in ulterior themes and methods: a surplus of knowledges that makes—beyond any inevitable history—another disturbing, living history possible between the traces, fragments, and forecasts of what can be incompatible times, which although incompatible are also unavoidable if we do not want to remain closed inside the boundaries of a given European model.

Studying, creating, and producing make room for an expanded authorial dimension that is situated between proximities and distances, marked by the continuous trespassing of specializations into the zones of expertise of others, and gives rise to a practice of adjustments in and breakdowns of hierarchies. The muddled hierarchy that emerges, which is anything but naive, is made of formal and informal circular interactions between producing subjects: a peer relationship that breaks up self-referential behaviors based on the status of authority bestowed by a title or the professional value associated with a career.

The research themes correspond to research on the types of activities proposed by Studio 14, carried out in the permanent tension between formalized and open working procedures. The workshops, debates, reading groups, open studios, and laboratories not only describe and provide an image of the form they reflect, propose, and represent. The dramaturgy of the research as it develops also makes it possible to intervene in social expectations, conventions, and standards. The work on genres and formats—making them multiple, emerging, and continuously redefined through collective action—is the tool used to intervene in reality and open institutions to the public.

Studio 14 puts the relationship between art and audience into focus, i.e. the relationship between society and art—set apart from the obsession of the major, occasional, general, and generalist public that has often caused modern cultural institutions to lose their imagination, their legitimacy, and their desire. Studio 14 creates a space of participants capable of taking part, of being part: cultivating hostile, expansive partialities that aim to modify the practices of others, since they are well-defined partialities. Studio14 disrupts the jargon of recognition, produces contradictions and experiments that rely on their own limited rationales. It disassembles what at first seems linear, making a space that is not metric but political, in order to inhabit the paradoxes and ambiguities of the present.

Studio 14 has been initiated by: Yanni Almpanis, Daphni Antoniou, Dimitris Athridis, Paolo Do, Egija Inzule, Loukia Kotronaki, Salvatore Lacagnina, and Adam Przywara.

 

Deep in the sea there is a puffer fish … Fables, Traditions, and Other Impostors

Ancient Greece, its art and philosophy, Dionysian and Apollonian, is the sea to which Western culture—from the Middle Ages to the present—has cyclically returned, with varying ambitions and degrees of force, plunging in like a deep-sea diver to retrieve mysterious creatures and objects. A voyage almost in the opposite direction, from the “center,” always leads to the same “periphery”—a beloved and despised origin, continually prone to re-appropriation and recovery. It is the Greece of Byron and Coleridge, Ingres, Goethe, and Leopardi. It is the Greece that the Prophets of the Modern excavated, in search of their own traditions: art as a historical document lends itself to falsification. It is the false labyrinth built with the reinforced concrete of Knossos; Προσφυγικά, the housing complex in Athens for the refugees expelled from Turkey; and the “Mediterranean” rationalist architecture of the Italian colonists that some still insist on calling brava gente.

The history of the peninsulas and islands we now call Greece, their names mythicized in Western culture, is a history that straddles “West” and “East,” the birth of “Europe” and the transformation of the Ottoman Empire. A history of occupations, from the blurry, multifaceted, irreducible identity of Europe to the literally invented tradition of Modern Europe. “The Parthenon, to my eyes, in a sublime way, was a myth I detested: the intellectual clarity, the geometric hauteur, the ignorance of the magma, of disorder, of dreams, demons and nightmares; I was faced with the obsessive myth of what Europe was supposed to become.” So warned Giorgio Manganelli, a distinguished writer, having arrived in Athens in 1971 after returning from his unique journey in the magmatic “Black Africa.”

An identity that is now being brought back into discussion by the thousands of men and women who are once again reaching these coasts from different cultures, speaking different languages, expressing opposite desires, crossing the same sea, “imaginatively constructed” by the mutual interaction of the many cultures bordering its waters. Men and women willing to learn the language of Goethe and the Volksgeist passed down by the fables of the Brothers Grimm? The sea of pirate ships, of merchant vessels, extending even to include the gigantic container ships of contemporary logistics. The ships with crews of many tongues, of great explorative expeditions, colonizations, and the global market, which repeat from the 1600s to the present, always identical, always different, navigating along new and old routes.

Certainly the sea and the crews still have a mythical memory, in ancient Greece. From the ship of Theseus, the hero who, with the help of Ariadne, managed to find his way through the labyrinth and to kill the Minotaur, to that of Odysseus, for whom Dante does not sanction the return to the safe haven of Ithaca, whose “compagnia picciola” defied the sea for love of knowledge, making the ships oars into “ali al folle volo” (wings for a “last mad run”) and going to meet death without having even attempted to reach the mountain of Purgatory.

Studio 14 sets out to inhabit the ambiguity of these spaces, the places of the real and the imagined, and to enact perspectives of estrangement through common research that brings together artists, writers, political activists, scholars, students, and anyone who wants to plunge “into the undersea world of the modern, unarmed of any specialist harpoon, unequipped with doctrinaire glasses, without even an oxygen tank which is the enthusiasm for anything spontaneous and primitive which we breath today,” as Italo Calvino wrote in his introduction to Italian Folktales in 1956. And, we might add, without spreading enthusiasm for alternative and secluded forms of life that do not come to terms with the factory of society. We are unwilling, moreover, to admit any form of idealization, as we are incapable of suffocating the need to translate, to pass from one language to another, from concrete figures to abstract words, from abstract representations to concrete experiences. It is impossible not to interpret, just as it is impossible to refrain from thinking. These are some of the plots Studio 14 attempts to weave through presentations, readings, conferences, discussions, screenings, field research, and site visits, to think about and act on in the present, starting from today’s Greece, at a time when Europe—once again—has issued the bill for its own invention of Greece.

Participants include: Sven Beckert, Iain Chambers, Cathy Gere, Eleni Kyramargiou, Tassos Kostopoulos, Nasim Lomani, Vasso Nikolaou, Dimitris Papanikolaou, Giulia Piscitelli, Jon Solomon, Vio.Me., and various artists of documenta 14.

 

Program

Fables and other travelers
Various dates
Studio 14, Athens Conservatoire (Odeion)

Thursday May 4, 2017
Scene I: Translating Europe
With Jon Solomon, Tassos Kostopoulos, Vasso Nikolaou, and Nasim Lomani
6:30 pm, Studio 14, Athens Conservatoire (Odeion)

Wednesday May 17, 2017
Scene II: The Birth of Tradition
With Cathy Gere and Dimitris Papanikolaou
6:30 pm, Studio 14, Athens Conservatoire (Odeion)

Thursday June 1, 2017
Scene III: Their Mediterranean
With Iain Chambers and Eleni Kyramargiou
6:30 pm, Studio 14, Athens Conservatoire (Odeion)

Thursday June 20, 2017
Scene IV: Fabrica Mundi
With Sven Beckert
7 pm, Studio 14, Athens Conservatoire (Odeion)

 

 

Further encounters, developments, workshops, and open studio will be announced soon.
Please check here for regular updates and refer to the documenta 14 calendar for upcoming events.