State of Concept Athens is the first non-profit institution with a permanent location and a yearly programme, to operate in Greece. Founded in 2013 by art critic and curator iLiana Fokianaki and based in the neighbourhood of Koukaki at the centre of Athens, it is an independent platform aiming to foster the appreciation for local and international contemporary art and the growth of artistic and curatorial practice.
Operating as a bridge between Athens and the international contemporary art scene, its core interest is to bring to the fore artistic practices that question the current social, economic and political phenomena of Europe and beyond, by addressing these thematics from the location of Greece, existing literally and metaphorically on the borders of West and East. Through the last decade the country has been the profound location where new dilemmas, questions and realisations of the current Western condition have sprung. Living still through a financial crisis that has altered its societal fibre, the country remains a unique topos from where we as cultural practitioners can address, the rethinking of the Western canon and the complexities of localities and their socio-political and economic histories.
The institution, since its inception, has been asking questions that relate to the notion of the State and its contemporary condition in the West and beyond, as well as the state of conceptualization of contemporary art and all the nuances it carries. Its exhibitions are formed as chapters that together with the institution itself perform «the State as such», in an effort to address from within an introspection on the functionality and grammar of institutional building, in precarious conditions of peripheral localities.
Founder and Artistic Director:
Maria Adela Konomi
Public program and research:
At State of Concept the following wonderful colleagues have offered their knowledge and shared their insights:
State of Concept has been providing pro bono advice and one-to-ones to art students and artists via appointments since its inception in 2013. We have assisted so far more than 200 young professionals and students from Greece and beyond.
The consultations last 30min and take place at the institution from Wednesday to Friday, between 5-7 pm.
Please contact the gallery staff to book an appointment via email. Bookings should be made in advance, due to limited availability.
“Xen(i)os” was inaugurated in September 2019 with Forensic Architecture’s exhibition “Violence, Fast and Slow”.
The line of enquiry will be addressing the histories of hospitality and care in relationship to the multi-cultural policies that have defined the profile of the modern West. The thematic wishes to develop further the concept of hospitality in relationship to the Other. The title is addressing the problematics between the binary of guest-host, in a world that is becoming all the more xenophobic. The title further derives from the concept of “Xenios Zeus” one of the prefixes of god Zeus, famous in mythology for his hospitality, but also ironically echoes a governmental special operation of the same name, implemented in 2013 by the greek police. It was an operation that performed random checks on immigrants and refugees by arresting and detaining them to check their papers. During the same year a report by Human Rights Watch estimated 85.000 persons being stopped during the operation simply based on their appearance and skin colour, of which only 6% were illegally in Greece. The title of the program also refers and includes the word “xenos” that in greek means foreigner, the non-kin. The word has been also the title of the Greek translation of the seminal book of Albert Camus “L’etranger”, a book from which we will be drawing inspirations from. Looking into the concept of Greekness (and the questions that arise in contemporary Greece on who is the contemporary Greek) will also be another focus of this chapter with a public program announced early 2020.
With recent examples in Greece of anti-Semite MPs being appointed in government, or anti-muslim comments made by ministers of several parliamentary parties throughout the years, and a widened discriminative and racist discourse augmenting in public discourse, we feel the need as an art institution to provide a safe haven for democratic and inter-sectional ideas to all our audiences and to host artists and cultural practitioners that respect the values of inclusivity, equality and respectful co-existence.
This exhibition chapter, supported by the FfAi, is delving into artistic and curatorial practices that investigate the scope of the judicial and research real events that have had societal impacts: court cases and political trials that changed the course of local histories, histories that have divided society or have been erased from the official narratives of the state. It also addresses major strands of political and social theory that propagate social inequalities, such as anti-feminist rhetorics. It further looks into historical periods that have produced particular marginalisation of populations adjacent to certain political positions, such as the anti-communist period that begun after the second World War, by exploring its effect on contemporary political thought, feminist struggles and society at large.
State Affairs is an exhibition chapter dedicated to artists that work with video and the moving image. It presents artistic practices that focus on thematics unfolding and narrated gradually through several artworks, practices distinguished for their interest in shedding light on historical conditions and how they affect contemporaneity. The practices selected for this exhibition chapter are characterized by an essayistic approach to issues that involve, racism, religion, futurism, post-colonial discourse, nationalism etc., at times blending, documentary, performance and the moving image. The programme aims to address directly current affairs, predicaments, problematics and cul-de-sacs of contemporary living, by at times, summoning the past.
In the current European reality, the concept of a European identity is vaguely defined and seems now almost irrelevant to its citizens. The union is in a condition described recently by Jean-Claude Juncker as “Europe in an existential crisis” and the rise of the far right has fortified the concept of the “nation-state”, making it the main vehicle for the far-right to attract voters and segregate communities within member states of the Union. In recent years, the voices that supported the “European ideal” have been, if not quieter, certainly more ambiguous. What is promoted as a common European direction is much less related to the 90s idea of a united Europe that propounded a common agenda of equal rights, freedom of speech, multi-nationality, multi-ethnicity and multi-religious populations. Today, its is rather a Europe consisting of countries that promote their own economic and social agendas, protect their interests and which now tolerates – if not promotes in certain cases – rhetoric of hate, division and closed borders. The exhibition chapter “European Condition” looked into aspects of citizenship, unionizing beyond borders, state propaganda and the role of religion in the formation of Europe.
State of Concept
Tousa Botsari 19, Athens
T: +30 2130 318576
To stay regularly updated on all State of Concept’s activities, please signup below.