State of Concept Athens is the first non-profit contemporary art institution with a permanent location and a yearly program to operate in Greece. Founded in 2013 by art critic and curator iLiana Fokianaki and based in the neighbourhood of Koukaki at the centre οf Athens, it is an independent platform that fosters the appreciation for local and international contemporary art and the growth of artistic and curatorial practice.
State of Concept hosts exhibitions, public programs, events and workshops, and offers free one-to-one tutorials to artists and students throughout the year. It has been collaborating with
institutions abroad, with exhibitions and other parts of our program traveling to Amsterdam, Auckland, Ljubljana, New York, Paris, Rotterdam, among other places.
Operating as a bridge between Athens and the international contemporary art scene, our interest is to bring to the fore artistic and curatorial practices that address and question the current
social, economic and political phenomena of Europe and beyond. We do so by looking into these thematics from the location of Greece, existing literally and metaphorically on the borders of West and East. Living still through a financial crisis that has altered its societal fibre, the country remains an urgent location from where cultural practitioners can rethink the Western canon and its constructs.
The institution, since its inception, has been looking into formations of power in relation to geopolitics, national identity and cultural and anthropological histories, so as to comprehend, reformulate and eventually deconstruct the ideologies that maintain profound power imbalances and injustices in our world today.By looking at the institution as a form of power, we aim to perform institutional critique from within. Building on the idea of the “state” and its power structures -often inherited by art institutions- in State of Concept we develop our thematic chapters in the form of “ministries”, “departments” and “bureaus”. In an effort to address
and redefine the functionality and grammar of institutional building and its white Western, Eurocentric legacies, we run a program that responds to both the precarious conditions of peripheral localities and the global sociopolitical realities of contemporaneity, from a feminist and intersectional perspective.
Founder and Artistic Director:
Overall identity and website design:
Studio Remco Van Bladel & Studio RGB
Printed matter, design:
We thank the following previous team members who offered their knowledges and shared their insights:
Agapi Harmani, production management (2014-2016)
Myrto Katsimicha, production management (2013-2017)
Maria Adela Konomi, production management (2017-2020)
Hristiana Stamou, production management (2014-2015)
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.
The diminishing of care in all facets of human life has been one of the major effects of neoliberal austerity policies, that was made even more visible during the global pandemic of Sars-Covid19.
These last decades neoliberalism has capitalized on the individualist notion of care, widely promoted as “self-care,” through an industry with billions in revenues. By “leaning-in” and taking care of oneself, contemporary subjectivities of the so-called “developed” world are tasked with the care of their overworked bodies, but are less and less interested in the wellbeing of bodies that are outside of the immediate realm of their family, class, working environment, neighborhood, city, country.
Care—and its ethics and politics—has been a subject matter the art world is concerned with. The global pandemic has made it all the more urgent. But is it a real concern that will lead to change in the ways we operate in our institutions and working relationships? How can care – if studied care-fully – provide transformative responses to the various problems that art institutions have been facing? Why are contemporary art institutions keen to talk about care, when they have been so care-less themselves? How can an art institution embody and practice the knowledge and the politics of care in a meaningful way?
A global pandemic demands a move from institutional critique to institutional transformation. From working towards making inequalities visible, it is now time to actually change our institutions, building on feminist, queer and black critique and demands for the redistribution of care. Aiming for the futures of care-ful practice, we wish to act on the possibilities enabled by the voices that speak from legacies of countless forms of collective care: healers, care workers, mothers, social workers, educators, cultural workers.
The Bureau of Care gathers artists, activists, writers and social workers to script and visualise the foundations for a European post-pandemic politics of care. Through the pandemic we have become even more aware of the truly essential workers: nurses, cleaners, educators, cultural workers, and others. Based on the values they represent, the Bureau will develop a handbook, exhibition and series of gatherings that propose the ideas and forms that make a new politics of care imaginable and actionable.
The Bureau of Care will consist of three components: a series of gatherings (online & physical), a handbook and a physical bureau. The handbook is essentially the script through which we will gather contributions of artists, activists, writers and social workers, to define the pillars—in words and image—of the post-pandemic politics of care we aim to bring into being. We will ask contributors not simply to reflect on what defines care, but for actionable forms and practices, ways of being and organizing, for the world [unfolding before our eyes. The handbook will be a physical publication.
The bureau will manifest as a digital platform on one hand and as a physical bureau in State of Concept Athens and other institutions. On both its physical and virtual locations, we will translate the various actionable propositions gathered in the handbook, into a mapping of a “how to” of care, as an on- and offline exhibition of ideas and imaginaries. The Bureau of Care will simultaneously be the space for gatherings: a place where we assemble within the mapping of new collectivities of care.
The project is realised in collaboration with various institutions, organisations and individuals such as WHW Akademjia, Framer Framed Amsterdam, Latvian Center for Contemporary Art, Kunsthalle Wien, Arts of the Working Class, Open School for Migrants in Pireaus, Melissa Center for Migrant Women, Feminist Research Group a.o.
The Bureau of Care is realised under the “Solidarity Grant” of the European Cultural Foundation.
Gossips: Re-claiming the words used to define women
(following on the lecture series from Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam Fall 2019-Spring 2020).
Yes, Sir, set up your sail,
And row forth with evil hail,
for without fail,
I will not out of this town,
But I have my gossips, everyone,
One foot further I will not go.
They will not drown, by St. John
And I may save their lives!
They love me full well, by Christ!
But you let them into your boat,
Otherwise, row now where you like
And get yourself a new wife.
The new chapter of programming that commences this September is entitled “Gossips” and is inspired by the 2018 book of Sylvia Federici, entitled Witches, Witch-hunting and Women. This program aims to look at a particular concept -and chapter- of the book that focuses on the term of gossip, and how from a positively associated term, used to describe primarily the comradeship and the creation of a support system among women through meetings and discussions in the home and outside of it, it has today been imprinted in our consciousness with its contemporary meaning, which carries a negative connotation: that of a person transferring rumours and news and talking behind people’s backs. As Federici clarifies at the beginning of that chapter :
“Tracing the history of the words used to define and degrade women is a necessary step if we are to understand how gender oppression functions and reproduces itself. The history of “gossip” is emblematic in this context”.
Silvia Federici, On Witches, Witch-hunting and Women, 2018, p.35
With an anti-feminist discourse coming from all aspects of conservative voices of society, with anti-abortion laws being re-introduced and women’s rights -defended for decades- contested by far-right politicians, it is extremely crucial in 2020, to address the current status quo in relationship to women’s oppression and even more so, address it through the sphere of culture.
This series of programming begun as a curated lecture series by iLiana Fokianaki, for the cultural institution Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, the Netherlands between fall 2019 and summer 2020 (still unfolding due to the COVID19 crisis). The theme will be now developed from September 2020 onwards at State of Concept Athens and aims to bring women together, to re-generate and re-perform the original concept of “the gossip” as a support structure for women’s ideas, thinking processes and exchanges. It also wishes to collectivise feminisms discourses and create a platform through which there can be new utterances to counteract and address anew all the words used to define and degrade women (Federici) and deconstruct and unfold them. Moreover, it aims to offer an open dialogue with its audiences, through case studies, oral testimonies and histories and sharing of non-linear knowledges, breaking epistemic injustices; knowledges that wish to operate contrary to sexist rhetorics and patriarchal ways that we witness in culture and society, by way of practicing and being otherwise, as cultural workers and women.
“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
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