“Photography in Crisis: Depression Era, 2011-2019” by Slought | A retrospective exhibition of Depression Era
Photography in Crisis
A retrospective exhibition of Depression Era, a collective art project in Athens, Greece engaging the “Greek crisis” and its aftermath.
From Slought website:
Slought is pleased to announce Photography in Crisis: Depression Era, 2011-2019, a retrospective exhibition presenting the Depression Era project, a collective lens-based arts project based in Athens, Greece whose work engages the so-called “Greek crisis” and its aftermath, on display from January 17 – February 17, 2019. During this time, Allan Sekula’s “Waiting for the Tear Gas” (1999) will also be on view in our Mediatheque as a companion piece to the exhibition. An opening reception will take place on Thursday, January 17, 2019 from 6-9pm, with a conversation featuring members of the collective at 7pm, including Pavlos Fysakis, Yiannis Hadjiaslanis, Yorgos Prinos, Georges Salameh, Vangelis Tatsis, and Pasqua Vorgia.
Participating artists: Petros Babasikas, George Drivas, Pavlos Fysakis, Marina Gioti, Giorgos Gripeos, Yiannis Hadjiaslanis, Zoe Hatziyannaki, Harry Kakoulidis, Christos Kapatos, Kostas Kapsianis, Panos Kiamos, Nikos Markou, Maria Mavropoulou, Dimitris Michalakis, Giorgos Moutafis, Yorgos Prinos, Dimitris Rapakousis, Georges Salameh, Spyros Staveris, Angela Svoronou,Olga Stefatou, Vaggelis Tatsis, Yiannis Theodoropoulos, Marinos Tsagkarakis, Dimitris Tsoumplekas, Lukas Vasilikos, Pasqua Vorgia, Chrissoula Voulgari, Eirini Vourloumis
The Depression Era collective was founded in 2011. Driven by a spirit of collaboration and a determined social and political impulse, the project brings together artists, photographers, writers, curators, in order to articulate a common discourse against the extreme social, economic, and political transformations that Greece has experienced in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Focusing on the financial and social crisis that has so effected such large swaths of Greek society, the transformations that have taken place in urban and social landscapes because of this crisis, the intensification of migration and the influx of refugees, the increase in homelessness, the ruination of public systems, the collapse of neighborhoods, and the increased vulnerability of all kinds of bodies, Depression Era has sought to provide a visual language for understanding not only the human cost of the crisis but also the possibility of an artistic activism based on visual literacy.
Depression Era is therefore not only a project that begins in response to an economic and social crisis—a project that seeks to present the crisis through several mediums, and especially through photography—but a project that also seeks to think about the way in which this crisis evokes a crisis within photography itself. In what way can photography—as a medium, as a practice, as a sociological and documentary practice and a theoretical and even philosophical intervention—represent crisis, transformation, dispossession, and displacement? How can photography address these issues in a meaningful way?
In order to think about these questions, the Depression Era project seeks to inhabit the urban and social landscapes of the crisis. It begins as a collective experiment that, picturing the Greek city and its outer regions, the private lives of outcasts, the emergence of the Commons and snapshots of everyday life that often remain unnoticed, seeks to understand, as clearly as possible, the social, economic, and historical changes currently taking place in Greece. The collective’s name takes its point of departure from its sense that entropy, disaster, uncertainty, and insolvency are also states of mind that are presently ushering us into an era in which notions of progress, ideas of growth, and the reflex of looking forward to a future are no longer dominant modes of perceiving and creating in the world.
For this reason, Depression Era seeks to overcome the mediatic white noise of current public discourse by creating its own mosaic of images and texts. It offers actions, the design of new spaces, digital platforms and interfaces, and publications that dynamically explore this mosaic. At the same time, it organizes educational initiatives and includes calls to young artists hoping to create an artistic archive of the crisis and, through this archive, a new digital and physical Commons, a kind of “sidewalk museum” that might present an alternative, informal record of contemporary history to our public spaces and, in doing so, call forth, in time, the possibility of another era, one that would surpass the Depression Era.
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation
Sally Stein and the Estate of Allan Sekula
Opens to public
4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Main Photo: © Kostas-Kapsianis
A public workshop engaging and rearranging printed images from Depression Era’s archive
Slought is pleased to announce “Open Archive,” a public workshop with Depression Era, a collective lens-based arts project based in Athens, Greece, on Wednesday, January 23, 2019 from 10am-12pm. The workshop will be facilitated by members Yiannis Hadjiaslanis, Yorgos Prinos, and Georges Salameh, and has been organized in conjunction with “Photography in Crisis,” a retrospective exhibition of the work of Depression Era that engages the so-called “Greek crisis” and its aftermath, on display January 17 – February 17, 2019.
The Depression Era project seeks to inhabit the urban and social landscapes of the crisis. It begins as a collective experiment – bringing together artists, photographers, writers, curators – that, picturing the Greek city and its outer regions, the private lives of outcasts, the emergence of the Commons and snapshots of everyday life that often remain unnoticed, seeks to understand, as clearly as possible, the social, economic, and historical changes currently taking place in Greece. The works produced by the collective constitute an “anarchic” archive (i.e. without governing structure or institutional framework) of the Greek social landscape since the financial crisis of 2011, when the group first began, and perhaps of the European landscape too.
The collective’s name takes its point of departure from the sense that entropy, disaster, uncertainty, and insolvency are states of mind, and that we are being ushered into an era in which notions of progress, ideas of growth, and the reflex of looking forward to a better future are no longer viable modes for perceiving and creating in the world. After eight years of existence, the Depression Era project now seeks to reflect on all the images, texts, photographs, videos, and discussions and representations of internal and external crises that the collective has produced. The task is to re-edit – to unarchive – the corpus of all the documents previously created and collected by Depression Era.
This return has involved re-editing—unearthing and “unarchiving”—all the documents created and collected by Depression Era in the past years: by its agents and subjects, in various media and with different intensities, interpretations, and contexts, at different historical moments, for all its audiences or users. In the end, this body of work constitutes an “anarchic” archive of the Greek social landscape (an archive without any governing structure or institutional framework)—and perhaps of a European one, too—as it has been transformed by the most recent 2011 financial crisis, which was when the group was created.
The exhibition consists of two parts: The first part, presented in the front gallery, includes an archive of approximately 800 images taken by the collective over the last eight years and stored in a cabinet. Spectators are invited to engage the archive, to re-edit and appropriate it, to become social agents who, re-contextualizing a pool of visual ready-mades, create their own time-and-place-specific narrative. Encouraging an encounter between the Philadelphia community and images from a small southern, peripheral European country on the other side of the Atlantic, the collective hopes to register common concerns with regard to the political, social, and economic crises of our late-capitalist moment. In this way, the project explores the power of photography and its archival remains to ask questions about who possesses and interprets this medium, a medium that increasingly determines the ways in which we see and live in the world. Indeed, the Greek origin of the word “archive,” archeio, points to the law, a governing place and structure, which initiates an array of significations and hierarchies and which can reveal, as Allan Sekula often noted, a shadow archive underlying and pervading our social structures. The archive can thus be viewed as either a document or a monument, a medium or a place, a heterotopia even, especially when it is reshuffled or created anew, or even destroyed by another. When authorship is understood to be multiple, collective memories can materialize and the possibility of re-imagining a common future emerges, one in which difference and anomy—the lack or rejection of a superimposed law—can perhaps prevail and become redemptive and transformative.
Moving from a staged encounter that suggests the ways in which archives are always reinterpreted by whomever enters them, the second part of the exhibition, presented in the main gallery, offers a selection of images that, in turn, enables the collective to tell its own story—one possible story among others. The images presented reveal an underlying contestation between the image as monument—a stand-alone landmark of an era or some heightened aesthetic value—and the multiplicity of documents, smaller visual fragments, which inevitably compose larger narratives. Although not a history-in-the-making, the various sources and contexts and origins of the images aspire to a simulation of public memory in the Depression Era—an era of fragments and ruins, and of reflections on what is left for us to ponder. The mobility and precariousness of people – refugees, nouveau pauvre, pursued by totalitarian forces, politically at an impasse and in limbo, but with infinite possibilities of becoming—not only defines the atmosphere of a whole era, but also reminds us of photography’s inevitable entropy and its nature of a medium as pendulum: between reality and fantasy, truth and post-truth, activism and aestheticism. In this sense, “crisis” also means judgment, and the crucial choices that we are called to make, as artists and political beings, driven by history and desire – be it collective or personal – to inhabit a world of non-hierarchical heterogeneities: a place of infinite new becomings.
The exhibition opens to public: 17 Jan – 17 Feb 2019
A public workshop engaging and rearranging printed images from Depression Era’s archive.