Georgia Kotretsos: Snehta is known for its artist-in-residence program, which pairs international artists with local curators. The longevity of the program only confirms its success. Snehta has acquainted a diverse roster of artists with the local art scene where all parties involved engage in a reciprocal exchange. How if at all, has the recent crisis post-lockdown affected the development of your program? Are we to be expected to see residency programs to evolve as new regulations, policies and measures continue to be implemented?
Augustus Veinoglou: As the team still develops Snehta’s program for 2021 Snehta is currently running a new residency called Median - The in between - that hosts Greek artists within the bounds of its traditional residency 2012-2020. This program emerged from the Covid-19 crisis so it can give Greek artists the opportunity to develop new work and research during a period where mobility and social gathering are limited. As these are traditional tools in the hands of contemporary artists Snehta comes to shed light into the local ecosystem and unveil its particular dynamics where cultural production can be possible.
As we are looking to resume the international program in spring 2021, we can use this time to try new ideas, from the way the team is structured to the actual activities Snehta is hosting giving space for playfulness and new ideas.
GK: The educational component of SNEHTA does not shy away from traditional techniques such as etching, woodcut, ceramics, videography and clay modelling classes – a trend, I would wish to encounter more often in contemporary programs. Is it by situating both the body in the work-place and the work-place in the community, that inevitably an organization invested in its immediate geography will grow?
AV: This is the idea. Geography and locality are key whilst developing new skills and becoming part of a professional community, this should apply for both artists and people outside Arts professional confines. Reaching out to the community by directing artists to turn their attention to it or by highlighting / unearthing the local dynamics of a neighborhood, area or site and turning those into artistic instruments is a tactic Snehta arrogated from the early start.
Yet what we have attempted in the last two years with our educational workshops, is to gradually introduce contemporary ideas to non-artists that could improve daily experience. The tool for that is to engage openly through the teaching of new techniques and skills. Yet attention is also given onto how artistic identity syndicates with habitual types of experience, this is a secondary objective Snehta aspires to extend further through art education, thus we are currently developing two proposals for an outreach education program that could actively bring both Snehta resident artists and art educators closer to the local community, that program could fundamentally change the residency structure introducing new professional roles i.e. community engagement offices into the program.
GK: As an artist yourself, running an artist-run space, you are very much aware of your peers’ needs locally as well as internationally. In your opinion what are some of the alternatives we should collective favor; challenges we will be called to overcome and opportunities to create in the near future?
AV: This is a hard question to answer in a short-sighted manner as needs are particular and person-specific… However, in terms of the general benefit of the artistic community and as far as Greece’ cultural industry goes, we could benefit more by talking more with our localities. In my opinion what should come first is a very detailed mapping of all creative players in Athens and furthermore in communities across Greece. Then I believe it is fundamental that opportunities which are genuine and are calibrated towards professional futures for local artists should emerge, yet it is fundamental that a holistic cultural policy should be in place before hand.
These new opportunities must be attuned to contemporary needs of artists which can elevate Greece to the level of becoming a significant contemporary cultural producer worldwide. For that to happen uniformly and attain the highest reach. Localities should first orientate towards topic cultural demands and bring those topics to the general forum for discussion. As funds, and potential institutionalization cascades from the top down - in this novel era - it may allow small to medium size organizations to be the policy makers and the - in kind - supporters to those key artistic players given of course that those organizations are the ones that are being supported on the first place by institutions which are in solemn authority.
THE ΤΕΛΟΣ SOCIETY speaks to Augustus Veinoglou, Founding Director of Snehta
Snehta stands for the name of the City of Athens written in reverse. This name metaphorically suggests that the artists involved are to rediscover Athens by reading and translating it alternatively, observing and using the City’s local, social and cultural dynamics.
Our work ethos is to reinforce participating artists to bring a renewed awareness of Athens through the works produced, exhibitions and events. These should relate to and critically stimulate Hellenic, inter-European and global audiences, redefining Athens in a global context.
Our programs have as a common basis to expand artistic practices that present elements of innovation and experimentation.
Snehta fosters artists that clearly delineate the implication between artist, work and audience whilst supporting creative practices that strongly regard the experience or involvement of the community in the artwork or within the organization.