Blog

February 4, 2021

Who is the contemporary Athenian?

Open Call: Hippodamia in Context

Victoria Square Project in collaboration with Counterpoints Arts and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Public Humanities Initiative (SNFPHI) at Columbia University, launches the first call of Station One AIR, a year-long residency programme for emerging artists to reimagine Greek identity and asks: Who is the contemporary Athenian?

The selected artists, four from Greece and four from countries with significant migrant and refugee communities in Victoria Square, will work in teams of four, for three months, under the mentorship of Columbia University faculty, collaborating artists and curators and the team of Victoria Square Project, to engage in a series of “contextualizations” of Pfuhl’s sculpture.

Once an upper-middle-class neighborhood, Victoria Square is now one of the most diverse areas of Athens, home to long-time residents as well as immigrants and refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria. In 1937 a neoclassical sculpture by Johaness Pfuhl depicting the centaur Eurytion abducting Hippodamia was installed in the square. Today the scene depicted by the sculpture and the 19th century Bavarian Philhellenism behind its creation stand in stark contrast  to the everyday realities of the square’s inhabitants. For many Greeks living in the area, Hippodamia (as the sculpture is known) is a painful reminder of the nation’s failure to become adequately “European” in the eyes of the West. For many immigrants and refugees, the sculpture is yet another sign of the Greek state’s and society’s reluctance to expand their understandings of national identity and to accommodate those who do not easily fit existing images of “Greekness.” Hippodamia confronts those who live around it with contentious narratives of national history and identity in much the same way that statues of historical figures in the U.S., the U.K., and South Africa have recently become charged topics of debate. How might these broader conversations about the politics of public art and commemoration be harnessed to consider Hippodamia in Victoria Square and what it means to be Greek today?

The programme consists of two rounds during which four selected artists will work together for three months, under the mentorship of established artists and curators, academics and key community figures. Each round will host two artists currently living in Athens and two living in one of the countries of origin of the local communities. Exceptions can be made for artists of migrant origin currently living in Europe. The artists are expected to work together collectively on a common project, without any constraint for a specific result. The artists are expected to engage with the local community throughout the programme.

All residents will have access to Victoria Square Project’s infrastructure, and receive support from its team throughout their project’s realization as well as an honorary fee of 900 euros. Additionally,  residents not living in Athens will be provided with independent housing. Each team will receive a collective 1000 euros budget for the implementation of their common project.

Application deadline extended to: 20 March 2021

Full details, including how to apply: https://www.victoriasquareproject.gr/open-call-2021

For Counterpoints Arts this work is part of our international programme supported by Comic Relief, consisting of a series of arts and pop culture projects that challenge representations of refugees in mainstream media and complicates their depiction in arts and popular culture.

SUPPORTED BY