The Cultural Olympiad is an expression of its definition. According to the Oxford English Dictionary from the twentieth century, 'Olympiad' is defined as the period of four years between celebrations of the Olympic Games, and it was used by Ancient Greeks for dating events. Ancient Greeks competed in athletic, literary and musical competitions at the Games at Olympia.
Devised for the first time for the Athens Games in 2004, the organizers of the Cultural Olympiad plan to extend the event into the future. It will take on the role (between Olympic Games) of continuing the concept of the Olympiad by maintaining and reinforcing the Olympic ideals which are the focus of the Games.
The Cultural Olympiad started at the end of the Sydney Games in 2000 and continue through 2004 and you can find below the program for 2004.
One example of a cultural event is 'OUTLOOK'. This International Art Exhibition, brings together the main currents of contemporary art that touch the spirit of our times. The title OUTLOOK underscores the need for looking outwards, for being open to the restless artistic preoccupations, the challenges and the alternative cultural forms of the 21st century.
It sets off a series of relationships between the person as a viewer and the object of art, between vision and the other senses. It reveals the inherent contradictions and the creative possibilities of our changing world.
According to the organizers, what contemporary art needs today is not its reduction to complex interpretative models, but its integration within a framework of comparison and dialogue-its assimilation within the sphere of a whole, in which each individual part is an active and significant unit.
Drawing on its links with the present, OUTLOOK illuminates some of the dominant figures of the previous generation who have broken new ground in order to foster the sense of continuity within the artistic production. By featuring important and original works by a number of renowned artists from all over the world, this exhibition is a cultural event of major significance, and the first of its kind in Greece. Many of the important contributing artists have created their works in situ, or created original works commissioned for the exhibition.
We went to one of the three locations(see below for details): the gas works. We were greeted by an enormous tortoise (see below) and listened to a monologue from a large white car discussing its 'angst'. The venue was fun, the artwork ranged from excellent to entertaining and if we had time, we would have visited the other locations. It's very near the Acropolis ad makes for a good contrast to the classical sights and sounds of Athens.
Outlook is made up of three exhibits at separate locations. All three exhibtion venues are situated on the Piraeus Street Axis. Piraeus Street marks the site where in the 5th Century BC the Long Walls of Athens joined the harbour of Piraeus. To this day it remains the key artery connecting Omonoia Square, the center of the city of Athens with Piraeus.
1. “Technopolis” - 100 Piraeus Street, Gazi
3. “The Factory” - Athens School of Fine Arts, 256 Piraeus Street
The art: In contrast to other recent major international art events, OUTLOOK is not restricted to a specific theme or a predominant theory. It focuses on works of art characterized by strong imagery and a powerful visual presence. It reestablishes the naturalness and the intensity of works which go beyond the saturation of images to lend a new breadth and a new dimension to the visual and aesthetic experience. "We no longer need pretentious and flamboyant theories on staging exhibitions," Christos M. Joachimides, the exhibition's artistic director points out, "but a restoration of their primary importance for our senses. The difference between one exhibition and an other is its myth and not some abstract concept. What is shaken and crumbling is exactly this myth and not some abstract concept". Often the first victim of the current overabundance of big exhibitions all over the world is art itself. Many of these exhibitions are not based on the works of art themselves but on trendy and striking theories. The oversupply of such theories and exhibitions distorts the very meaning of art, of its material and aesthetic essence and of the direct experience it presupposes. The particular meaning of art is dissipated in the anguished quest of the "new" in art and in a spread of information of a kind that has many people wondering "What is the position of art today?" Hence the need to refocus our attention on art itself and reinstate the moment of the subjective experience. OUTLOOK is a response to the exhaustion suffered by art as a result of an overabundance of exhibitions and works of art. Art becomes stronger when it returns to art and the artists. In this way, what really comes back are the forms and the experiences which constitute a real venture.
The artists: By bringing together 200 works by 85 major contemporary artists from 21 different countries, OUTLOOK also examines the relationships between different generations and origins along the geographic horizon. Although it is host to a variety of expressive media and techniques and a range of works of painting, sculpture, video art, photography, and installations, the exhibition is mainly focused on the interconnections between the works and the overlapping areas between them. It is this extension that becomes one of the key components of the exhibition: everyday objects and assemblies are transformed into sculptures, painting becomes environment, photography becomes painting, video becomes an installation.
Mike Kelley, Light (Time)- Space Modulator, 2002
CATALOGUE The exhibition is accompanied by a 400-page catalogue edited by Christos M. Joachimides, designed by Michael Paparounis and printed by Adam Publications. The catalogue includes an introduction by the artistic director; essays by Daniel Birnbaum, Nicolas Bourriaud, Arthur Danto, Nikos Daskalothanasis, Boris Groys and George Tzirtzilakis, which examine, from different angles, the new phenomena, the extent and the complexity of the practices of contemporary art; more than 260 colour reproductions of the artists' representative works and their biographical notes.
EXHIBITION ARCHITECTURE The exhibition's indoor display halls cover a total area of 5,000 square metres; another 9,000 square metres are covered by outdoor display areas. The layout was done by the architectural office of Maria Kokkinou and Andreas Kourkoulas, with the collaboration of Eleni Theodorou, according to the specific requirements of the works of art and aiming at a uniform identity and an expanded concept of the viewing experience. The display areas, the exhibits and the visitors form a system of visual relationships which alternates and is gradually revealed through movement.
|The 2004 Program
PICASSO: GREEK INFLUENCES
PLEATS: FROM ANCIENT GREEK CLOTHING TO 21ST CENTURY FASHION
AUSTRALIA: INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIA NOW
THE ATHLETIC SPIRIT IN ANCIENT GREECE
SIX EUROPEAN SCULPTORS CONVERSE WITH MAN
HENRY MOORE RETROSPECTIVE
NEW MUSEUM OF ISLAMIC ART: THE EXHIBITION