THE ΤΕΛΟΣ SOCIETY speaks to Aristides Logothetis, Executive Director of ARCAthens
Founded in 2017 by Executive Director Aristides Logothetis, ARCAthens’ mission is to provide opportunity and support to Visual Artists, Curators, and Scholars to further their research to focus on bridging international dialogue, cooperation, and understanding.
ARCAthens is a non-profit organization dedicated to hosting visual artists and curators from all parts of the world to live and create in Athens, Greece, and the Bronx, New York —thereby facilitating a diverse influx of expression, production, and learning. We offer creative platforms for the lively exchange of ideas, values, and expressions of our humanity.
In 2019 ARCAthens hosted artist and curator Fellows Tomashi Jackson, Miranda Lash, Larry Ossei-Mensah, and Cullen Washington Jr.in Athens. ARCAthens has partnered with Atopos cvc and presented programs at the Acropolis Museum, the Goulandris Foundation, and the Athens School of Fine Art among others. In 2020, the ARCAthens Virtual Residency Program Fellows have been Blanka Amezkua, Eirene Efstathiou, Michael Paul Britto, and Eirini Linardaki.
Our Mission is realized through our programs:
Our ARCAthens Virtual Residency provides financial and institutional support to promote our Fellows and encourage a new dialogue through our multiple digital platforms. Our Fellows are selected through nomination and invitation.
Our Visual Art and Curatorial Residency Fellowships provide fully funded live/work spaces that allow artists, curators, and scholars to be immersed in—and consequently respond to—the ongoing cultural renaissance taking place in Athens. Our Fellows are selected through nomination and invitation. An open application process is under consideration, please check back for further information.
The ARCAthens Mentorship Program is a 2-month cross-cultural online mentorship between artists and curators, providing direct support to develop dialogue, the examination of the artist's practice, and further professional development if desired.
Our ARCAthens Residency at Experimental Printmaking Institute is a partnership with Lafayette College extending opportunities to our Fellows for a printmaking residency at the Experimental Printmaking Institute. Fellowships are awarded on an invitational basis.
Georgia Kotretsos: In the age-of-the-obscene, ARCAthens denounces racism, injustice and inequality. Opening declarations as the one above are no longer implied if not stated. What are the values ARCAthens advocates for?
Aristides Logothetis: In our work, we deeply believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the core of all of what ARCAthens undertakes. We welcome everyone regardless of age, sex, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or marital status. The ARCAthens Team lives by these guiding principles in all aspects of their lives. Furthermore, being based in the Bronx and Athens, where we live among diverse communities of Black and Brown, displaced immigrant, and diaspora peoples, ARCAthens joins all the voices denouncing racism, injustice, and inequality; and commits to these values in our programs, our organization’s structure, and our workplace environment. These values then extend to the artists whom we choose to support, and by extension, the good work they undertake in the positive cross-cultural bridge-building our programming establishes.
GK: ARCAthens paves avenues for Greek artists, curators and scholars to work in the USA and through its mentorship program provides targeted care to professionals in the States and abroad. Please unpack for our readers both programs and their objectives?
AL: The ARCAthens Mentorship Program (AMP) will be ARCAthens’ second online program. Initially a response to the Covid pandemic, AMP now aligns with our mission to provide opportunity and support to visual artists, curators, and scholars to further their research with a focus on bridging international dialogue, cooperation, and understanding.
Through ARCAthens cross-cultural programs we have found differences but also strong affinities in the Greek and New York creative communities we serve. In the in-between space of difference and similarity, ARCAthens seeks to provide creative platforms for the lively exchange of ideas, values, and the expression of our humanity. We join all the voices denouncing racism, injustice, and inequality; and commit to these values in our programs, our organization’s structure, and our workplace environment. We have seen how the work of ARCAthens Program Fellows advances our common humanity and sense of social justice while animating a fundamental reappraisal of beauty in its diverse forms.
In our research when the Covid pandemic began in earnest, we determined two areas of concern ARCAthens could address for artists and curators in our programs. The financial devastation had foregrounded a need for professional development. For example, numerous themes that could be addressed included: financial management, presentation of an artist's work, how to approach a changing art market, how to recalibrate a career post-Covid, what new models of business or partnership might be available for artists now that the non-profit sector was going through realignment? These and other topics kept coming up, in both Greece and New York, with different emphasis depending on the location and cultural needs.
A second and fundamental need was that artists and curators were now stepping back and reassessing their practices. With their plans postponed or even canceled, the how, why, or for whom they were making artworks came into question. The fallout from the pandemic was creating an existential crisis for many creators. The support structures they were relying on have collapsed, challenging their creative purpose. They are just now beginning to see this could be an opportunity to be examining assumptions and constraints about how they have been doing things. Our in-depth conversations with artists and curators have shown us that sharing their practice is needed by many who have either been underserved or are at a mid-career point, a group the pandemic has impacted deeply. At the same time, professional and independent curators needed to find again a touchpoint with artists and their projects, programs, or perhaps positions that became unclear or were put on hold.
It became clear to ARCAthens that the opportunity was for a cross-cultural mentoring program that addressed these two polarities of need.
GK: Post-lockdown, in the midst of a societal crisis in the USA, and in a state of pre-election limbo, may I ask you to put real setbacks and challenges to the side for a minute? May you guide a contemplative journey on the potential opportunities arising for ARCAthens through the recent developments? How does your program organically evolve and stays relevant in the grand landscape of the arts?
AL: ARCAthens believes that the free flow of information, especially through the network of artist residencies, is essential to healthy societies and universal discourse. We see growing threats to this in how our governments respond to stress, the controls and manipulation placed within social media, or the intrinsic amorality of artificial intelligence. We also believe in the innovation and freethinking of artists to find ways to connect with each other, to their audiences, and so we continue to support creative platforms for our innovative art makers.
Our growing and diverse programming portfolio reflects our commitment to our mission during these changing times. For us, as an organization, the challenges are similar to what others in our community have tackled, and we find inspiration and fortitude in the support and commitment of our resourceful Team, which quickly came together to understand and adapt to our world’s shifting parameters. Our small size has been an additional source of strength and agility allowing us to grow our digital presence and continue serving the community during this time of social-distancing, as well as beyond – these new programs will remain past the pandemic. So, as we have been working energetically to improve our digital resources and prospects for our constituents, we view these developments as more than temporary “pivots” and more as opportunities to strengthen the depth of our service and bring us closer to our founding vision of offering our Fellows and the community a welcoming home for continuing dialogue.