THE ΤΕΛΟΣ SOCIETY speaks to Sozita Goudouna, Founding Director of Greece In USA
Greece in USA is a non-profit organization with a global reach that promotes knowledge of contemporary and ancient Greek Culture while fostering international cultural cooperation, experimentation and social engagement. The organization's extensive programming includes commissioned artists' and curators' projects, residencies, educational and ecological initiatives and the commitment to cultivating a sensible culture of innovation and thought leadership.
We are dedicated to offering innovative and unique programs in education and the arts, all exploring the evolving diversity and richness of Greek and Cypriot cultures. The non- profit organization seeks to generate new thinking about the arts and promote cross- cultural dialogue through partnerships and new platforms of creation.
The organization promotes international exchange of practice and knowledge in the arts - visual and sound art, dance, architecture, theatre - research on the methods used in curatorial and performing practices and investigation of points of intersection between the arts, science and the public sphere by means of interventions, collective actions, educational programs and publications.
Greece in USA aims to collaborate and build long-lasting partnerships with leading institutions and individuals who actively engage with Greece and its culture and to convey a comprehensive and distinctive representation of Greece and Cyprus by producing cultural and educational programs that encourage intercultural dialogue and enable cultural involvement.
Our principal goals are:
- To shape and envision the image of contemporary Greece in the United States beyond existing stereotypes
- To recalibrate the assumed centre of Greek national narratives to include those who have often been denied historical recognition.
- To transform the way Greek histories are told and produce projects that reflect the vast, rich complexity of Greek culture.
- To support Greek inspired cultural practices by welcoming and nurturing new ideas and influential perspectives
- To commission, produce and present contemporary Greek and Cypriot culture that grapple with many of the pressing social and political issues of our time
- To foster Greek scholarship and cultural research within the American educational system
- To develop a transatlantic network for the exchange of culture and ideas
- To strengthen the development of structures in cultural policy & leadership, and foster worldwide mobility.
Greece in USA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization registered in the State of New York, tax-exempt ID no. 85-0828531. Contributions to Greece in USA are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. Greece in USA's launch is under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Culture.
Georgia Kotretsos: The inaugural program of GREECE IN USA is already under the aegis of the Greek Ministry of Culture. Allow me to congratulate you for securing support for the program. The mission of the organization comes to punctuate a cycle of misrepresentations and stereotypes of contemporary Greek culture. What are the steps GREECE IN USA is taking towards achieving its immediate goals by overthrowing long standing pervasively problematic practices?
Sozita Goudouna: As the largest supporter of the arts and humanities in Greece, the Greek Ministry of Culture seeks to support distinguished organizations that produce projects where ideas and imagination can thrive. Therefore, we are proud to have been among the outstanding organizations that have been selected to promote Greek culture abroad. Greece in USA’s launch in New York in 2020 serves under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Culture that awarded our inaugural exhibition and symposium for its focus on a socially engaged and thought-provoking subject matter like incarceration. The prison’s status as a silent and invisible space is being challenged today primarily by incarcerated artists who are working with communities most affected by prisons and policing so as to examine prison privatization and the politics and economics of the massive increase of the U.S. prisoner population since the 1970s. It is very significant for us that the Greek Ministry of Culture supports a platform that promotes the extroversion of contemporary Greek Culture but at the same time addresses the relationship as well as the discrepancies between the current self-confinement conditions and actual incarceration by examining the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual tensions that humans have to endure while in isolation. Greece in USA’s mission is indeed to punctuate a cycle of misrepresentations and stereotypes of contemporary Greek culture both for the non-Greek and Greek audience. The fundamental step in achieving this goal is to treat the Greek artists and cultural agents as participants in international projects in the US and to promote their participation not only in national but primarily in conceptual and aesthetic terms.
GK: GREECE IN USA fosters international cross-cultural as well as cross-discipline exchange of practices and knowledge in the arts. What are some of the invaluable traits, trends, methodologies and inquiries of Greek professionals in the arts, GREECE IN USA advocates for?
SG: Greece in USA aims to enhance and develop collaborative authorship and interdisciplinary exchange between cultural entrepreneurs, artists and scientists. Therefore, we are excited that Yiannis Kaplanis, executive director of the Greek Festival and Andreas Takis, director of the Northern Museums Consortium: Momus and The Kostakis Collection together with cultural producers Wayne Ashley (FuturePerfect), Rachel Katwan (Pomegranate Arts) and ethnographer Tressa Berman are among the participants of our board of directors. We are launching our program with a socially engaged exhibition and symposium with the aim to cover epistemological territories that trigger “uncomfortable knowledge.” We consider that by applying and transposing methodologies from one discipline whether social, environmental or scientific to another (art, culture) we can unravel the complexities of artistic representation. Greece in USA supports research-led-practice and considers that research-driven-art or arts-based-research is vital for the promotion of culture. Greek art professionals are currently exploring the relationship between the live and the visual arts and are trying to imagine the role of the artist/curator/producer of the 21st century, hence, we are eager to promote and endorse the outcome of this research.
GK: Penetrating the American educational system by introducing Greek scholarship and cultural research is the route to take. Allow me to applaud GREECE IN USA for the bull’s-eye approach concerning matters at hand on American soil. Which factors informed your decision to wedge GREECE IN USA in the ivory tower of American academia?
SG: The focus on practice-based research expands into our aspiration to build partnerships with academic stakeholders. Greece in USA will launch its program in December 2020 in collaboration with academic partners at CUNY and the New School and we aim to establish a resilient exchange with American academia. The academic focus presupposes that our concerns and sensibilities are not primarily aesthetic but also discursive, social and educational.