CURRENT Athens is an online platform for the non-hierarchical promotion of contemporary art.
Shots for an unrealized dream sequence. A. captures the beach in a bottle and confronts the commodification of her smile.
Monday, Wednesday & Sunday: 09:00-16:00
NEON in collaboration with the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades presents: The Palace at 4 a.m.
Curated by Iwona Blazwick OBE, Director, Whitechapel Gallery and Elina Kountouri, Director, NEON
Organised and commissioned by NEON
This exhibition of contemporary art is inspired by the collection of the Archaeological Museum of Mykonos. It takes its title from an iconic work by Alberto Giacometti. The Palace at 4 a.m. is a small wooden sculpture he created in 1932; like a theatre it features a dramatic encounter between a woman, a bird and a spinal column. Presiding over these protagonists is a mysterious deity. The scene is a palace before sunrise, a time of dreams, ghosts and secret assignations.
The exhibition draws on the strange drama of Giacometti's masterpiece to evoke the spirits, rituals and myths that haunt ancient archaeological sites such as Delos. The island’s statues, architectural fragments, vessels and tombstones collected in the museum are attributes of a cosmopolitan citizenry that disappeared two millennia ago. Just as Delos once brought together people from across the ancient world, The Palace at 4 a.m. features a global roster of 13 artists.
Their work is juxtaposed with the museum’s collection and additional treasures selected by the archaeologists of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades. Like a theatre curtain a monumental decorative drape newly commissioned from by Duro Olowu, which combines the richly decorated textiles from northern and southern hemispheres, provides the overture to the exhibition. An installation of artefacts - both platonic and erotic - has been composed by Haris Epaminonda. Simone Fattal presents her haiku-like ceramics evoking classical ruins and monsters; while Rena Papaspyrou magically transforms contemporary detritus into archaeological fragments. Ian Law enters the hallowed confines of the museum vitrine with votive figures that incorporate the ashes of the dead.
In the central gallery Paloma Varga Weisz pitches a beautifully carved contemplative female figure from the heavens; she is suspended in drapery that recalls the Baroque. Below her are two powerfully gestural ceramics, evoking landscape and habitat by renowned painter Lynda Benglis. Giacometti’s work is evoked by Daria Martin’s film In the Palace where she reconstructed his tiny sculpture as a full-scale stage set for a group of performers who take up the poses and gestures of avant garde Modernism. A spiral map of fragments by Stefania Strouza is arranged according to the wandering of Zeus’ lover Leto across the islands of the Aegean, in a shrine to female goddesses.
In another wing of the museum the towering porcelain vessels of Barthélémy Toguo use delicate glazes to depict the deathly iconography of the virus in African society. Opposite hang self-portraits screened on Ghanaian textiles by Zohra Opoku her image metamorphosing from her botanical environment. Where the museum offers a retirement home for the vessels of antiquity, Petrit Halilaj brings resembled fragments of Neolithic pottery back to life by turning them into birds for whom he has constructed two nests. Elsewhere he has installed the museum conservationist’s deadliest enemy – a giant moth is suspended from the museum’s ceiling, a metaphor for all those who can only reveal themselves under cover of night.
In the museum garden Maria Loizidou has suspended a huge pelt handwoven from a stainless-steel mesh, remnant of an entity that has either been hunted and skinned; or sloughed off its own skin to live again.
The comingling of ancient and contemporary exhibits will illustrate how the human need to impose order on a seemingly unruly universe produced ancient mythological creatures and sustains the animist beliefs that still dominate systems of belief in Africa, South East Asia and Central and South America today. Juxtaposing old and new works will draw out our shared vulnerabilities - how we stigmatize and imprint what we fear and at the same time expect.
Elina Kountouri, Director NEON
The juxtaposition of the artefacts of antiquity with works of art made today, reveals shared sensibilities, fears and desires. While technology extends our virtual reach around the world, it is through the objects we make and use in daily life that we are able to transcend time. They provide the tangible link between our lives and those of our forebears and, in turn, will be the memorials we leave for future generations.
Iwona Blazwick OBE, Director, Whitechapel Gallery
The Archaeological Museum of Mykonos will temporarily incorporate works of contemporary art in order to ultimately redefine the vital importance of monumental heritage as a constituent element and pillar of modern society. The past welcomes the present in its home, and the museum, from an enclave of memory, is transformed into a creative workshop of cultural encounters.
Dr. Demetrios Athanasoulis, Director of the Ephorate of Antiquities of the Cyclades