fourth and final exhibition in the cycle
DIRECT ARCHITECTURE. Politics and Space
Curated by Marco Scotini
On Thursday 6 December, the Borgovico 33 contemporary art space in Como inaugurates Structures of Influence, an exhibition by the young Greek artist Vangelis Vlahos and the fourth event in the project Direct Architecture. Politics and Space.the U.S. Embassy models of Athens (in 4 part), 2006
Vlahos became known to the mass public with his participation in the Berlin Biennale (2004), Manifesta 5 in San Sebastian (2004) and the last Saõ Paolo Biennial (2006). The area of investigation chosen by Vlahos is principally the urban reality of Athens with its insurmountable contradictions. His method of investigation is that of the archivist of political incidents and social facts. Even the architectural models produced by Vlahos – always to a scale of 1:50 and in grey cardboard – are based on photographs taken from archive material or information discovered, rather than the concrete experience of the building in question.
As Marco Scotini explains: “At Borgovico33, the artist highlights a double failure. On the one hand, that of the Colonels’ Regime between 1967 and 1974, symbolically represented by the Piraeus Tower, which conveys a sense of Greece’s progress under the dictatorship - a building never completed and never fully used. On the other, there is Alekos Panagulis’ failed attempt at resistance with the attack on the Greek dictator Gorge Papadopoulos in 1968 and all his political militancy. Presented with material from the archives of the daily newspaper Eleftheros Kosmos (Free World) – the official organ of the regime – Panagoulis’ actions have a direct link to Italy in the key figure of Oriana Fallaci and her famous bestseller A Man published in 1979.”Untitled, 2007
Not only does Vangelis Vlahos explore the contradictions of modern society in all his research, he, along with many contemporary artists, also inscribes his work within the more general sphere that deconstructs the monolithic idea of a single modernity, which is, on the contrary, developed in specific and local contexts. Like a sort of archaeologist of our times, the artist explores examples of Modernist architecture from the 1960s and 1970s, focusing on them more as occurrences in time than structures in space, more as tokens or “records” than cultural “monuments” - basically, more as the mechanisms of power than functional spaces.Untitled, 2007
The American Embassy in Athens is one of his most recurrent case-studies. Designed in perfect International Style by Walter Gropius in the late 1950s, Vlahos presents the gradual transformation of the American Embassy from a utopian symbol of modernisation and an element of democratic propaganda to the target of terrorist attacks and today’s reactionary American politics. In one example, the diplomatic headquarters are shown as the object of the 1996 missile attack, for which the Greek armed struggle group 17 November claimed responsibility. In another example, it is linked to US diplomat John Brady Kiesling’s letter of resignation from his post at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Athens, sent to Secretary of State Colin Powell in March 2003 in open dispute with American policy in Iraq. “New markets require new structures” (2006) also addresses buildings with special emblematic value, but in Eastern Europe – from the skyscrapers of Warsaw, Sarajevo and Prague to the parliament buildings in Bosnia. Chosen by Vlahos, they are viewed for their political-economic contradictions during the period of social change fueled by the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The project will be accompanied by a catalogue, to be published at the end of the exhibition cycle, containing information on the four personal exhibitions, biographies and photographs of the works shown.