|“In present tense” - Exhibition of young Greek artists of the National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) (ANTI 18/1/2008)|
Mihalis Papadakis, sculptor
Representative of EETE in the B.D. of the EMST
“In present tense” – Exhibition of new Greek artists of the National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST)
What one would expect to see in such an exhibition of the National Museum of Contemporary Art is, up to a degree, a representative picture of the contemporary fine art creation of new artists.
In the specific case I don’t want to talk about the works themselves, but about the theory, based on which 34 artists were selected (from 500 candidates more or less) and the exhibition was set up.
Mrs. director, in the introduction of the exhibition catalogue mentions that the works of the 34 artists are placed “in this context, where the expression of the difference between artistic minorities meets the determination of the concepts of identity and alterity (“us” and “the others”), beyond entrenchments and closed national patterns, this exhibition explores our present time in the horizon of the international artistic context and a nomadic mobility which characterizes young Greek artists and their work”. 
These works, she continues, offer “… to the visitors the key for reading an artistic hybrid reality, both local and trans-local , open to the here and to the elsewhere, to the present and to the future. From this point of view, the work of young Greek artists, which could be considered an artistic minority in comparison to their established omologues, without being the exclusive representative of the artistic present, constitutes nonetheless, a privileged research field”.
Following she claims that the exhibition “… it brings us, for the most part, closer to the enchanting and vivid side of artistic creation, the very moment that its language is being constructed, deconstructed and re-tried, where experimentations, doubts and errors are a pivotal point in the quest for artistic identity”..
Specifying the aim of the effort, she mentions that it looks for “… an open, polyphonic exhibition, stemming first and foremost from the need for self-knowledge, or, from the ever-timely Stefanos Koumanoudis΄ question: “Where is Greek art going today”? …”.
We have, that is to say, a “polyphonic” exhibition, under the condition, though, that it has eliminated the minority art works “of established omologues” that were found, obviously, to refer to the “closed national patterns”. The exhibition wants to show the “hybrid reality of the local and the trans-local” towards the “search for an artistic identity”. And this way the “artistic minority”, which has been selected, is acclaimed to be the “enchanting and vivid side” [something like Avant-Garde] of artistic creation”. The characteristic of this “Avant-Garde” is that it “stems first and foremost” from the “ever-timely Stefanos Koumanoudis. The characteristic of this “Avant-Garde” is that it “” from the “΄ question” and it answers to it.
The question of St. Koumanoudis (Belgrade 1845) –the man of letters of the Dispersion, before he came to contribute to the composition of the newborn civil state-, has been unanswered for 162 years as far as Mrs. director is concerned and keeps inspiring her. The answer to the “Koumanoudis’ question” that she herself suggests with this exhibition at the end of her introduction, is the “…the production of art-in-the-making by Greek creators, and their legitimate claim to address and with the recognition of a trans-national audience”.
It is obvious from the introduction that the criteria are only ideological and concern the sociopolitical situation. Consequently, our thought is also necessarily focused on these criteria initially.
The “hybridism” of the works of the exhibition lies, supposedly, in the combination of the locality with trans-locality, which aims “to be recognized by a trans-national audience”. From which theory, does it result that the national is a closed schema contrary to the transnational and does not directly and historically refer to it? For the history of Art something like this does not exist. But for the sociopolitical history neither, the “national” was never “closed” towards the “transnational”, the international market that is.
What is the meaning of substituting the term “national” with the term “local”, when Mrs. director is forced to contradict the “local” to the “transnational”?
Two observations: 1) Art that “Greek creators” produce inside and outside the borders and that should be directed towards the “transnational public” to what does it owe its distinction? To the fact that it is our people?
2) How else can the “transnational public” be determined but through common consuming tastes that exceed the occasional national consuming habits?
All this adventure of logic in the introduction, just not to recognize that Art was always global, universal, despite its mazy routes through the occasional sociopolitical and religious systems. But if someone recognized the universal nature of Art, attention would focus mainly on Aesthetics and the criteria deriving from it. And the specific sociopolitical issues, in which Art evolves, would be placed at a secondary level.
Instead of this, suddenly Koumanoudis arises and dominates in the text, with his question. Obviously, in order to amplify the supposed historicity of the approach and especially the argument that the “closed national” finds its salvation in the “open local”.
Koumanoudis, though, was fantasizing a developed civil (national) state capable of playing a role (open) to the international (transnational) market, which was formed since then only by the dominant civil states. After the First World War, with the appearance of the new historical perspective (socialism), the national issues concern now rearrangements of the productive apportionments inside capitalism and the unification of consuming habits under the pressure, this time, of gigantic international companies. It is not accidental that these manage today, or claim to manage, together with the economical, the political and military authority as well. At this period, whichever national issue arises is historically obliged to overcome the ideological limits of the national claim, which derive from capitalism, turning towards the new perspective (socialism), before it withdraws and gets embodied more or less violently to the settlement of international apportionments. Today it seems to the thoughtless that the new historical perspective has ceased to exist for the international sociopolitical situation.
So, whoever talks about abolition of the “national” and its replacement by the “local” of a “trans-locality” should determine first the character of “trans-locality” in order for the nature of “locality” to be apprehended. If the new trans-locality does not consist of competitive between them localities, then the “Greek creators” don’t need to rush to get acknowledged by “whichever transnational [consuming] public”.
Globalization –as a tendency, as the word suggests- does not indicate nothing more that the developing role of a few international companies.
Linear thought, though, is not capable of conceptualizing that this tendency is impossible to complete. The dominance of an international company-state identifies with the abolition of the capitalistic system itself, when already today it comprises an element of its extreme development.
The internationally recognized work of Orwell 1984 (1949) sets two basic elements of imaginary evolution, which make it scientifically valid. First that the future international state cannot exist without having backed as far as its economical-social organization is concerned to a pre-capitalistic system of casts, although these are created as dominances of a private company. And second: in order for this system to be able to justify its existence in its interior, it should invent the virtual reality of a non-existent external enemy (“we and the others”), bringing the deception of its citizens to extremes.
So, from the supposed theory of Mrs. director, there remains practically the incorporation of the EMST as a franchise to a much promising rising transnational unit, so that it will take advantage of its “trans-national audience”.
Despite, though, the sociopolitical obsessions, a central theoretical issue rises from the introduction through its absence: What is Art for Aesthetics? And reversely: What is Aesthetics for Art?
Is Art a product that was invented in order to illustrate religious and sociopolitical ideas and ideologistic concepts? Or does it belong to these forces that man cultivates and evolves, like producing tools and scientific research, which give him the possibility to widen his world, with Aesthetics as his sole weapon?
With characteristic comfort, Mrs. director bypasses in her text whatever has to do with Aesthetics and in the selection of exhibits she judges only the narration with vague sociopolitical criteria, which not only don’t have a basis in the social and political sciences, but they don’t escape not even at a minimum from the level of the social prejudices of cafeteria ideologies. As a matter of fact, she aspires, under these conditions that she herself sets, to “construct” the “most lively side of artistic creation” as pioneering.
However, the central questions rising from the above are addressed to the Board of Directors of the EMST, as the only responsible instrument for its cultural policy. And these questions are:
1) Is it the aim of the EMST to create fake pioneering, behaving contrary to the majority of the artists in our country?
2) Does the Board of Directors realize that they are responsible for this exhibition, as well as for all that it implies for fine art creation in our country?
3) How much does the B.D. understand the establishing law of the Museum?
I know that the primary responsibility of the Museum in relation to fine art creation in our country is its study and promotion without eliminations.
The scientific validation of a period can arise only through a systematic collective study, which by definition is time-consuming, and it is impossible to be done “in present tense”. If our concern is to construct competitive products for consummation by “a transnational public”, the law of the Museum does not involve anything that legalizes that.
 The underlining in all the quotes is mine.
- “In present tense” – Exhibition of young Greek artists of the National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST): The fake criterions of fake innovations (ANTI 15/2/2008)
- “In present tense” - Exhibition of young Greek artists of the National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) (ANTI 18/1/2008)
- Museum, money and the ideological franchise of the National Museum of Contemporary Art (ANTI, 6/10/2006)
- Is this really a National Museum of Contemporary Art? (ANTI, 20/9/2006)
- National-private, private-national institutions and their “theoreticals” (Newspaper, Newspaper of the Chamber of Fine Arts of Greece (EETE), May 2006) (To be translated soon)
- What the National Museum of Contemporary Art is and what it should be (ANTI, 5/5/2006)
- The exhibition of the National Museum of Contemporary Art for the decade of the 70ies and the historical falsifications (ANTI, 21/4/20006)
- A. Zenakos and the adventures of the mind…(Newspaper, EETE Newspaper, January 2006) (To be translated soon)
- EMST: Place of political trade (Newspaper, EETE Newspaper, November 2005) (To be translated soon)
- “Transcultures”. Theory and Practice of the National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) (Newspaper, EETE Newspaper, January 2005)
- Ideological devices and the reality of OUTLOOK (Newspaper, EETE Newspaper, January 2004) (To be translated soon)
- Open letter to the Minister of Culture, Mr. Venizelos: OUTLOOK in commercialized Art (Newspaper, EETE Newspaper, December 2003)(To be translated soon)
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