Is this really a National Museum of Contemporary Art? (ANTI, 20/9/2006)
Mihalis Papadakis,
Representative of the Chamber of Fine Arts of Greece in the B.D. of the EMST
Is this really a NationalMuseum of Contemporary Art?
(ANTI, 20/9/2006)
A book entitled “But is this art?” has recently been issued. Despite its 150 pages, the writer Cynthia Freeland doesn’t manage to answer the question that she herself sets “in a provocateur way”. At the same moment, of course, she lets her positive attitude towards what she herself denounces show…
How can the drama of this “storm in a teacup” be solved, so that she can collect her salary without any guilt? She writes this herself in the last page of the book: “The theory of art doesn’t look like scientific theories ( …).On the contrary, there don’t seem to exist some “laws” of art that can predict the behavior of artists or explain the “evolution” of the history of art, by describing in detail which is the ”inheritance” of a beautiful important work” (…) [The theory of art]contains the attempt to organize an amazing variety of phenomena, in order to manage to say which is their common point that renders them special.»»
A very clear statement: Art doesn’t have laws-let alone artistic creation-, does not evolve and so it doesn’t have a history-inheritance. The theory of Art, as a matter of fact, cannot do anything else than organize its material (Art works) to invented classifications, as these classifications cannot originate from laws or history either. As a matter of fact, according to Mrs. Freeland, Art work is also an invention. So, the history-theory of Art is not a science. But then, what is it? And where does its prestige stem from? 
The theories of employment, with the above prerequisites, cannot escape either from the level of simply recording how subjectively even social groups perceive the beautiful from time to time.
The above opinion is one of the dominant ones not only in the field of Art. It expands to all the so-called humanistic sciences, having as main victim the social history that is presented and taught as successive facts, organized, classified and exploited with subjective criteria, see conveniences.
This so common practice greatly “overwhelms” Α. Zenakos, when he sees it exhibited pretending to be Art work in the exhibition “The Big Walk” of the EMST. 
What if the only thing that the viewer sees is a common domestic environment of the time ­–like in any folkloric museum for historical personalities–, only that here it is about a non-existent person. What counts is the intention of the creator, which according to Zenakos is to “penetrate in the interlacing categories of history, memory, experience, myth and narration” (newspaper VIMA, 10/9/2006).
Something, that is to say, like “Xena”, the television fabrication that at the level of interlacing with the “categories” of “history, memory, myth …. and narration” has “put aside” Hercules. This common practice “overwhelms”…
Having the opinion that Art does not have laws and history, one feels the comfort to claim anything, as long as it has the “prestige” of a permanent column in a newspaper. So, A. Zenakos, in the same article, claims that the “falling Angel” is a work that offers “relief” because it is a work with “diffusion to the social field”.
The construction consists of a wooden fence of an urban residence that surrounds a big rectangular space. At the opposite corner from the side that the viewer is allowed to see, there is something that refers to a fallen body with something that refers to feathers, without an aesthetic concept, either sculptural or of painting. It is, in other words, a clearly typological construction. And which is, by the way, the idea that is diffused by the above construction to the social field? A. Zenakos writes: “And the viewer feels all of a sudden rather guilty, taking part with his peeping Tom curiosity in this cosmic accident or crime that was unreeled –from all the places of the world–at Thesio and that someone had the time to fence it so that no one intervenes to its primitive form, as long as the Angel’s Police is expected to study it blankly and at length”.
The above philosophy according to Zenakos is named by himself “cruel poetry” with a social meaning!!  
We must admit that the two typological elements of the construction are offered in the current propaganda. The urban environment (fence) and its religious symbol dead (angel) would possibly lead someone to set the question: Was he perhaps killed by Islamists?  
As a matter of fact in the “artistic” interpretation of A. Zenakos some words can be distinguished :viewer (person), guilty-participant, cosmic crime, Police, which, if they are considered as words-keys, they can refer to the darkness that lately millions of people of the urban environment of the West experience as a threat, until they prove that they are innocent.   which, if they are considered as words-keys, they can refer to the darkness that lately millions of people of the urban environment of the West experience as a threat, until they prove that they are innocent.  
But we are only assuming, so that maybe a meaning with “social diffusion” comes out.
A rhetoric of the same quality characterizes the introductory note of A. Kafetsi (officer and director of the EMST) in the catalogue of the exhibition, as well as the presentation of the exhibits.
The rhetoric that “reads” the exhibit without any relevance to what the viewer sees appeared for the first time in Greece in the mid eighties. It is based on the claim that the reading of the work is not an interpretation, and as such it is autonomic and an Art work itself, independent and equivalent. Some (officers) push it harder today, claiming that the aesthetic suggestion-conception is done by the officers and not by the artists. The artists produce the variety of phenomena from where the officers distinguish what they need, so that they can “corroborate” their “aesthetic suggestions”.  
The catalogue is full of such nonsense extemporary philosophies. For example: The kiosk of natural history with some exhibits of Mediterranean trees etc with the title “New Palestinian Museum” is baptized a dialogue with the new under construction museum of Acropolis (the curve that connects two similar museums). Another example: The two non-exploited granite blocks from Austria entitled “The graves of the king” are compared with the “temporary refuge of the goddess Athena” … And many more.
Which are the scientific tools-criteria for Contemporary Art that the EMST uses?
Is this really a National Museum of Contemporary Art? This is a question towards many directions.  

Mihalis Papadakis

Designed by Design-It