THE ΤΕΛΟΣ SOCIETY speaks to Dionisis Christofilogiannis, Founder of space52
space52 is an artist-run space founded in 2017 by Dionisis Christofilogiannis to support Athens-based artists. It continuously seeks collaborations with art spaces and professionals from abroad. Our community and network grow by facilitating collaborations, exchanges and research-based projects. Space52 serves as a hub for local and international creatives, intellectuals and theoreticians. The main focus of all our engagements are the current inquiries of our growing and dynamic community. Space52 is the Athens incubator of ideas and experiments.
Georgia Kotretsos: What motivated SPACE52? It seems it was yesterday when SPACE52 had its first exhibition, how has it grown since then?
Dionisis Christofilogiannis: In 2017, looking for a studio/atelier larger than the living room of my house, I ended up at the space (former gallery and garage) at 52 Kastorias Street in Votanikos area. After 6 months, Space52 was created spontaneously with a group exhibition called “Forthcoming”, which included texts, archival material, and artworks by Athens-based artists. Each artist presented fragments or complete works representative of their most recent inquiry. After this, Space52 became a collective transformed into an inclusive artist-studio, a reservoir for ideas and proposals. The selected works explore in equal parts, theory and practice. At a first glance, they may appear incongruous and eclectic yet, after a closer look they revealed the shared overtone of memory, fragility and sensory knowledge.
In practice, I oversaw a field of action that could develop by supporting Greek artists in collaborations with art venues and professionals from abroad. After that we had many beautiful collaborations with other artist run spaces, artists, art institutions and universities. An online journal “One after Another’ was created smoothly 2 years ago with the contribution of editors Maria Karachristou and Maria Xypolopoulou, and new editor Ariana Kalliga. Interviews, Experimental Writing, Critical Essays and Reviews are included in this journal.
In 2019, Space52 was included in a catalogue published on the occasion of the exhibition The Same River Twice, organized by the DESTE Foundation and the New Museum in collaboration with the Benaki Museum in Athens. From underground happenings and activist orientations to the rise of artist-run spaces and the critical realm of self-published art zines and journals, The Same River Twice offered a portrait of a city with an artistic dynamism that continues to unfold as artists seek new models for creative output and exchange.
In April 2020, after lockdown measures were put in place around the world, our immediate impulse was to bring together artists, friends, peers and professionals from any geographic location, with no limits on age, nationality, or career stage, through the format of a truly open, open call. “Quarantine Exhibition”, with a total of 445 submissions, shifted into a plethora of voices and impulses, becoming a cartography of global sentiments. With a variety of strong and compelling works, the selection process became simultaneously exciting and challenging. The catalogue “Quarantine Exhibition” published in 2020 on the occasion of the Open Call during COVID-19 is hosted at the EMST, the National Museum of Contemporary Art of Athens.
GK: space52 is about to launch a series of educational programs offered at your premises. How did this initiative come to be? May you please discuss your program and to whom is it designed to appeal to?
DC: Space52’s educational programs grew out of the exhibitions we have been organizing since 2017, that revealed a greater need for dialogue within our community in Athens and abroad, of researchers, graphic designers, architects, web designers, performers, filmmakers, writers, academics and institutions, small and large. Another factor in this has been my reunion with Ariana Kalliga since our first meeting in 2014. Ariana has been working as a curator, archivist and researcher abroad, and since our reunion in Greece, our dialogue has led us to rigorously think about our direction and upcoming plans for Space52, where she is now the curatorial coordinator.
Responding to the unpredictable circumstances of the future, we decided that each season will have its own educational program. This Fall, we began our first. We called it ‘Carta Bianca’. A blank page, a chance to depart from the year 2020, and the underlying problems it revealed for artists and the cultural sector. Can we implement changes to improve our livelihoods and foster a greater artist solidarity ahead of 2021? The educational program unfolds in three stages. We are restructuring our online magazine One After Another, into a critical and interdisciplinary journal for practitioners to express and develop new ideas. We have released an open call for experimental writing that reflects the shared experiences and knowledge spurred by 2020, asking what comes next.
The second aspect of Carta Bianca is the creation of an international dialogue with a global community of artist-run spaces. Beginning from September 1st, we have interviewed 15 artist-run spaces from Chile, Wales, Argentina, Brazil, Scotland, Australia, Canada, Italy, and more. Beginning from the artist-run alliance initiatives of Common Practice (London) and All: Conference, Australia, we want to learn from other artist-run spaces about how to sustain and build networks of collaboration and share resources. We also want to create an artist-spaces solidarity in Athens, we want to decrease mistrust and competition, recognizing that the imperative of solidarity makes us stronger.
The third phase of Carta Bianca will be a series of in-person workshops led by theoreticians, painters, ceramicists in Space52’s grounds.
ART IN THEORY Workshop
Instructor: Ariana E. Kalliga
Guest Lecturers: Eleni Riga, MoMA, New York, Department of Education. Founder of contemporary research platform hd.kepler
Open to all learners irrespective of educational background, the Art In Theory seminars will offer a comprehensive overview of some of the most important ideas on art up to the present day. Examining examples of artworks of the 20th and 21st centuries, including the art of South America and South Asia, we will explore ways of looking, analysing, and interpreting artworks across a broad spectrum of media. Participants will learn how to use new competencies in visual analysis across a range of critical and historical perspectives, to write about and assess art’s cultural value, and finally, to explore and familiarize themselves with local and international museums, artist run spaces, studios and socially engaged artworks in the city.
The themes of the five sections are:
Art and Identity (What is Global Art?)
Modernism (Case studies: Europe and South America)
Aesthetics and Art Criticism
Is that Art? Introducing the Contemporary
Art and Public Space
Instructor: Christoforos Doulgeris
Guest Lecturers: Panayiotis Lamprou, is a visual artist and art consultant coordinator.
Open to a general audience and divided into 4 sessions, Seeing Through Photographs will provide a comprehensive view on the art of photography and “about what a photograph is and the many ways in which photography has been used throughout history and into the present day.
The themes of the 5 sections are:
Introduction to Seeing Through Photographs
One Subject, Many Perspectives
Pictures of People
MANAGING PICTORIAL SPACE IN THE DIGITAL ERA Workshop
Instructor: Adonis Stoantzikis
Andrei Nutu (RO): Visual artist (MA in painting Universitatea Cluj-Napoca )
Elektra Stampoulou (GR): Visual artist (PhD candidate at Athens School of Fine Arts)
Federico Murgia (NL): Visual artist (MA in Interactive Media Arts Frank Mohr Institute)
Alexis Fidetzis (GR): Visual artist (PhD candidate at Athens School of Fine Arts)
Open to all seekers regardless of educational background, the Managing Pictorial Space in the Digital Era seminars will offer an overview of how to deal with painting and artistic research in our digital world. Can techniques traditionally thought to be outside the scope of painting and drawing inspire the reinvention of painting?
Participants will learn how to manage information, use materials, build upon what came before, recombine existing, and distinguish their practice. The course will be taught through weekly in person 2-hour workshops with lectures and practice. Participants will be expected to participate in weekly group discussions and to complete a small project based on the courses.
The themes of the 4 sections are:
East of Eden: One idea, two worlds. (Western VS Eastern photorealism)
Μyth, Mystery & Μasterpiece.
Transfigure the Commonplace.
Uncreative Thinking. (Manage, Parse, Appropriate)
We will hold small-classes for high school students, university students and adult learners, by filling in the gaps left by the neglect of arts education in Greece. We will be initiating a curatorial workshop, inviting guest theoreticians and curators to teach students interested in curating about how to stage exhibitions, attract sponsorship, and more. We believe that you only learn by practicing, and these classes will be a chance to let the classroom become an artist’s laboratory in the city.
GK: Artists are taking matters into their own hands it seems. Especially when it comes to their own craft. Early career artists too turn to nonprofits or otherwise, outside the realm of established academia for their own growth and professional development? As an artist and an educator, why do you think this is the case?
DC: Bureaucratic processes, established hierarchies and outlooks, often impede the creation of new and topical exhibitions. What artist-run spaces usually lack in resources, they make up for in adaptability. Being agile, especially in today’s economy and circumstances, is especially valuable when planning exhibitions. As an artist-run space, we build trust and collaborations that often do not stop after the exhibition ends. We believe in long-lasting networks, and we try and support young artists as much as those who have been in the profession longer. A clear example of the difference between smaller non-profit artist-run spaces and bigger institutions is the current reckoning taking place. While profit-driven museums are cutting staff, budgets, and following the logic of private businesses, for many artist-run spaces this period has not shaken their foundations or worldview. I think artists recognize a greater need for a collaboration that grows into new directions, and audiences are interested in conversations, artworks and media underrepresented in museums historically. Often, artist-run spaces are critical in promoting and furthering artists' practice but it is the larger institutions who reap the benefits of the initial daringness and experimentation.