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Athens Biennale, the crisis as art

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xchrom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-29-11 07:20 AM
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Athens Biennale, the crisis as art
Still from "The Bleeding Statues", by Tony Lykouresis, a 1982 film projected at this year's Athens Biennale
Tony Lykouresis / AB3

Hundreds of Athenians huddling together against the autumnal cold while waiting for their turn in the soup kitchen. I stand there observing this poverty probably a bit longer than someone who is well brought-up, until a man hurling abuse indicates that I should get lost.

We were only a few hundred yards away from Monodrome the Athens international biennale: a name that roughly translates as dead end. The exhibition is supposed to be a commentary on the Greek crisis, but I leave it with the troubling feeling that the works on show also have a lot to say about the general state of the European project.

The Biennale has been set up in a symbolic location: an abandoned school in one of the citys must rundown neighbourhoods. It is an imposing 1930s building that has been left to go to seed. Paint is peeling off the walls, which are still covered with graffiti scrawled by students.

The audio track of an installation showing crowds chanting slogans re-echoes from one of the upstairs rooms. In one corner, marble sculptures representing deformed boxes have been set out to look like forgotten packaging. In another room, a TV is showing end-to-end clips of Greek sporting victories and cheering crowds.
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