On 11 June, the emblematic building of the former Public Tobacco Factory opens its doors for the first time, introducing a new contemporary cultural centre in Athens, open to all. This project is the result of a collaboration between the Hellenic Parliament and NEON to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Greek War of Independence.
The new 6,500m2 cultural space, renovated with funding from NEON, will be inaugurated by an international group exhibition, Portals, featuring 59 artists from 27 countries including 15 new site-specific installations commissioned by NEON. Among them, 18 Greek artists are exhibiting new works or works whose framework of creation and presentation have been renewed to make them site-relevant.
With this year’s commemoration of the Greek War of Independence and continuing to live through the pandemic, “Portals” aspires to give rise to new messages, ideas, and reflections regarding contemporary artistic creation, through the prism of a newly-formed reality composed of change and disruption.
The exhibition takes place in all renovated areas of the building: the atrium, corridors, halls and mezzanines, bathrooms, the former Customs Office, the surrounding area, on the roof / façade of the building and on Kolonos Hill.
The inspiration for the exhibition originates from an article by author Arundhati Roy (link to article Arundhati Roy: ‘The pandemic is a portal’, Financial Times, 3 April 2020: https://www.ft.com/content/10d8f5e8-74eb-11ea-95fe-fcd274e920ca) which states that “the pandemic is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.” Considering that the rift created by the pandemic on an individual and collective level opens a portal, it is up to us to deal with our transition through it. “We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world.”
The exhibition represents a pluralism of ideas and touches upon issues related to collectivity, cultural understanding of history and politics, public space, and our common past, present and future.
Alongside the physical exhibition, we have also created an online ‘portal.’ The free mobile NEON app enables visitors to virtually browse the exhibition, see and learn about the works and artists, as well as receive notifications on the exhibition’s parallel events. The app is available for iOS and Android.
Nikos Alexiou, El Anatsui, Dimitrios Antonitsis, Kutluğ Ataman, Kostas Bassanos, Vlassis Caniaris, Joana Choumali, Anastasia Douka, Eirene Efstathiou, Brendan Fernandes, Apostolos Georgiou, Jeffrey Gibson, Robert Gober, Vangelis Gokas, Sonia Gomes, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Shilpa Gupta, Elif Kamisli, Kapwani Kiwanga, Panos Kokkinias, Chrysanthi Koumianaki, Jannis Kounellis, Louise Lawler, Glenn Ligon, Liliane Lijn, Maria Loizidou, Tala Madani, Teresa Margolles, Steve McQueen, Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Marisa Merz, Ad Minoliti, Alex Mylona, Nikos Navridis, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Duro Olowu, Maria Papadimitriou, Dimitris Papaioannou, Cornelia Parker, Adam Pendleton, Solange Pessoa, Francis Picabia, Gala Porras-Kim, Michael Rakowitz, Ed Ruscha, Dana Schutz, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Elias Sime, Christiana Soulou, Do Ho Suh, Anna Tsouhlarakis, Alexandros Tzannis, Adriana Varejão, Erika Verzutti, Adrián Villar Rojas , Danh Võ, Daphne Wright, Myrto Xanthopoulou, Billie Zangewa.
The new commissions are by artists: Anastasia Douka, Brendan Fernandes, Elif Kamisli, Panos Kokkinias, Chrysanthi Koumianaki, Glenn Ligon, Maria Loizidou, Teresa Margolles, Ad Minoliti, Duro Olowu, Gala Porras-Kim, Michael Rakowitz, Alexandros Tzannis, Adrián Villar Rojas and Danh Võ.