Curated by Iwona Blazwick, Director, Whitechapel Gallery
27 May – 26 July 2015, Preview 26 May
École Française d’Athènes, Athens

A garden of an archaeological institute in Athens provides the backdrop for works of art that reconnect the human with the animal.  Echoing the satyrs, sphinxes and centaurs of Greek statuary, contemporary sculptures, installations and films draw on myth, drama and the animal kingdom to suggest a ‘bioethics’ for the 21st century.

Co-curated by Iwona Blazwick with the NEON Organization, this is the second in a three part series of outdoor art projects that bring significant artists from Greece and around the world into the public realm.

Artists include: Caroline Achaintre, Allora and Calzadilla, Huma Bhabha, Lynn Chadwick, William Cobbing, Enrico David, Angus Fairhurst, Tue Greenfort, Asta Gröting, Henrik Håkansson, Markus Karstieß, Yayoi Kusama, Richard Long, Sarah Lucas, Marlie Mul, Katja Novitskova, Anatoly Osmolovsky, Norbert Prangenberg, Ugo Rondinone.

New commissions are specially made by: Athanasios Argianas, Eleni Kamma, Dionisis Kavallieratos, Aliki Palaska, Kostas Sahpazis.

TERRAPOLIS, a term proposed by science philosopher Donna Haraway, combines the Latin ‘terra’ for earth, with the Greek ‘polis’ for city or citizens. This show asks should we regard animals as citizens? How do processes of nature, such as metamorphoses relate to the creation of art? How do mythic narratives resonate in contemporary society? And can we recalibrate our relationship with other species?

Figurative works in mediums ranging from bronze to ceramic by 25 mid century and contemporary artists explore myth, drama, metamorphoses and bioethics.

Artists include Huma Bhaba and Lynn Chadwick who create totemic gods and monsters that symbolise animistic power, giving contemporary form to mythology. Ancient Greek tragedies were counterpoised with ‘Satyr Plays’, tragi-comic burlesques set in woodland where players wearing masks and animal skins, would mock authority and engage in licentious play.  Caroline Achaintre’s ceramic masks evoke primal forms and drives, while Angus Fairhurst makes the gorilla – part pantomime character, part existential loner – his alter ego.

Allora and Calzadilla’s Hope Hippo (2005), sculpted out of mud and mounted by a performer who reads the newspaper and blows a whistle at every story of social injustice, is a tri-partite drama between animal, human and society. Athanasios Argianas invites viewers to become performers by donning masks and making objects into sound instruments combining animism, sculpture and music.

The biological process of metamorphosis is mirrored by sculptural processes such as ceramics and bronze casting. Sarah Lucas’ bronze figures transform male and female genitalia into a new entity. Layering resins, wood, fabric and leather Kostas Sahpazis creates skins where materials are suspended between their original nature and composite creation.

This project coincides with an epoch termed ‘the Anthropocene’, an era when human activities dominate and threaten the Earth’s ecosystems and extinguish other species. Richard Long records the traces of agriculture on the landscape, Marlie Mul looks back at our oily carbon footprint and to a future post-human era when we ourselves will become fossils; while Katja Novitskova looks at the internet as an ecosystem emblematized by exotic birds. Eleni Kamma revives the Renaissance wunderkammer presenting her own cabinet of curiosities of organic forms fused with the cultural world of contemporary Athens.

NEON and the Whitechapel Gallery are proud to present TERRAPOLIS, the second major collaboration in Athens between the two organizations following the presentation of ‘A Thousand Doors’ at the The Gennadius Library of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (4 May – 30 June 2014). NEON works to widen access to contemporary art and is committed to contributing to the vital cultural activity in Athens.

The exhibition is free.

TERRAPOLIS is curated by Iwona Blazwick OBE, Director, Whitechapel Gallery. NEON and the Whitechapel Gallery also work together on an annual curatorial award and exchange programme between London and Athens.

Notes for Editors

– TheÉcole Française d’Athènes is a public scientific, cultural and professional institution under the Ministry of   Higher Education and Research. Its purpose is to promote the study of the language, history and all aspects of Hellenism.

– NEON is a non-profit organization based in Athens that works to widen access to contemporary art and culture. Taking its name from the Greek word for ‘new’, NEON is committed to broadening the appreciation, understanding, and creation of contemporary art in Greece and abroad in the firm belief that it is a tool for growth and development. Founded by art collector and entrepreneur Dimitris Daskalopoulos, and under the Directorship of Elina Kountouri, NEON breaks with the convention that a contemporary art organization should occupy a single space. Instead, NEON employs the open and diverse areas within society to carry out its program. NEON engages with a large, public audience and acts on a variety of projects to expose contemporary art’s ability to stimulate and inspire society at large.

– For over a century the Whitechapel Gallery has premiered world-class artists from modern masters such as Pablo Picasso, Gerhard Richter and Cy Twombly to contemporaries such as Sophie Calle, Lucian Freud, Gilbert & George and Isa Genzken. With beautiful galleries, exhibitions, artist commissions, collection displays, historic archives, education resources, inspiring art courses, café/bar and bookshop, the Gallery is open all year round, so there is always something free to see. The Gallery is a touchstone for contemporary art internationally, plays a central role in London’s cultural landscape and is pivotal to the continued growth of the world’s most vibrant contemporary art quarter. whitechapelgallery.org

– The exhibition will be accompanied by a dedicated publication, educational programs, screenings of historical films in an open-air cinema within the School and guided tours.

Visitor Information
TERRAPOLIS, NEON and the Whitechapel Gallery at the École Française d’Athènes, Athens, Greece. For further information please contact NEON: T +30 213 0187 700 E contact@neon.org.gr W neon.org.gr

Open 27 May – 26 July 2015
Tuesday – Saturday: 10am – 9pm
Sunday: 12 – 6pm
Monday: Closed

Press Information
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