Cultures and Cultural Production

“Artistic research in Greece, from the 1990s to the years of the crisis”

Rikou Elpida, Konstantinou Katerina

Research ProposalResearch ResultsShort BioPublications

Summary of the Research Proposal

This project considers the study of recent developments on artistic research in Greece as an occasion for an important theoretical and methodological contribution in this newly established field. It is timely in doing so, both given that artistic research, its history and prospects are of great interest internationally, and in view of the fact that, even though artistic research has become essential in cultural production of value worldwide, it is still not well documented as a social phenomenon and remains under-theorized, in need of specific case studies.

The term artistic research, referring to activities in the processes of art production that could qualify as “research,” is relatively recent but it has already been strongly debated. This project responds to the growing interest for artistic research, nowadays, related to current drifts in the arts, which may be understood as a confirmation of the artists’ innovative spirit that opens up new perspectives for scientists themselves or as a by-product of neoliberal antagonistic relationships in education that could restrict artistic freedom by creating a new academy.

The project focuses on the fact that since the 1990s artistic research has seen a significant development in Greece too, due to artistic initiatives drawing from social sciences and humanities in order to produce art with political overtones. This tendency has been reinforced during the current crisis when the need for art activism was clearly felt and encouraged by the international attention that contemporary Greek art production gained. Meanwhile, Greek Fine Arts Schools face the challenge of artistic research and of further updating their curriculums.

The research project combines notions and tools from anthropology and art history in order to document and theorize artistic research in Greece from the 1990s, when it first appears, onward. Methodology and outcomes can be summarized as follows: 1) An archive of artworks, artists, and exhibitions will be developed. 2) An online platform will be designed and implemented in order to host the research material. 3) A selection of projects will be uploaded into an international database for artistic research, also offering artistic research in Greece wider visibility. 4) Four selected in-progress artistic researches will be compared through participatory observation and in-depth interviews. 5) An article theorizing the field of artistic research in Greece will be submitted to a relevant peer-reviewed journal. 6) An event will be organized to publicize the research results and serve as an occasion for an informed dialogue amongst Greek and international artists, scientists and theorists.

This project will provide a solid background for the study of artistic research culture within and around academia both in Greece and internationally and will deepen our understanding of art-making processes, their institutional context and the public perception of contemporary arts. A number of questions on creativity, interdisciplinarity, and collaboration in scientific and artistic research will be posed and their educational and political implications will be thoroughly considered.

Research: “Artistic research in Greece, from the 1990s to the years of the crisis”

Research Group: Elpida Rikou, Katerina Konstantinou

The research project “Artistic research in Greece, from the 1990s to the years of the crisis” was funded by the Research Centre for the Humanities (RCH) for the year 2019.

 

https://artistic-research.gr/ 

 

This report offers an outline of the one-year-long research program on artistic research in Greece from the 1990s to the years of the “crisis” conducted through 2019 with the generous support of the Research Center for the Humanities.

Artistic research has emerged in contemporary arts during the 1990’s. Its development is related to concurrent turns in the arts such as the “ethnographic”, the “archaeological”, the “historical”, the “educational”. Artistic research emergence is also associated to the introduction of the Bologna process in arts education, but has also been associated with the growing interest for innovative ways to do research, especially within the fields of humanities. Art has proved to be pioneering in introducing new methods and practices. Given the recent developments in research and arts education, as well as the social sciences and the humanities in Greece we believe that our research offers a timely contribution to understanding this under-theorized and largely unknown field.

Our perspective is informed by anthropology and art theory and also by our own practice in diverse research projects between visual arts, anthropology, history and archaeology. Regarding our method in researching artistic research in Greece, we invited artists to talk about their work and research practices in public and these talks are available at www.artistic-research.gr. TWIXTlab, a project space in Athens “situated ‘twixt’ art, anthropology and the everyday”, provided a hospitable place for the talks and the discussions between invited artists and its diverse public.

Artist talks followed by public discussions helped us to initiate a vivid dialogue regarding the future of research, arts and humanities, education and cultural policy in Greece today. We invited fifteen artists of different generations, mostly implicated in the field of visual arts and in art education, but also in architecture and dance, hoping to expand in other domains such as photography and cinema while continuing this research in the future. All invited artists were asked to contribute one or more artistic research project for the online inventory of the program, which can be found in our website. We hope that this inventory will remain a useful tool for further research on the subject.

Through this year-long program we had the chance to gather a rich set of research material and data which can be read and analyzed through various perspectives. Discussions with the audience of TWIXTlab that attended the artist talks as well as the one-day conference on artistic research in Greece that we organized in December 2019 provided a thorough insight into multiple concerns regarding different disciplinary fields (visual arts, art theory and art history, anthropology and cultural studies). Issues debated in the conference included contemporary arts developments during the so-called “Greek crisis”, challenges in exhibiting artistic research projects,  particularities regarding research in art education and, especially in the case of anthropologists, their own contribution to this drift.

Our research program is the first on artistic research in Greece and it has clearly demonstrated that this is an expanding tendency today, even beyond our own expectations. Therefore, more time is required to sufficiently record and understand this phenomenon. For the moment, we note down some findings which will help to adequately focus future research.

Since 2004 when Greece hosted the Olympic Games, and more significantly through the years of the “crisis” artistic research emerged and developed to be a current drift in the local art scene. At the same time, social sciences and humanities have been all the more interested in artistic research, even though scientists willing to experiment with art still remain but a few in Greek universities. Meanwhile, artists post-graduate curricula and the potential of practice-based PhDs within the Fine Art Schools seem to be at the core of the debate between art and academy.

Our research primarily focused on the artists themselves and their work in order to bring to the fore their own point of view on research. Marilena Aligizaki, Natasa Biza, Eva Giannakopoulou, Sofia Grigoriadou, Fotini Gouseti, Jenny Marketou, Medie Megas, Nina Pappa, Maria Papadimitriou, Giannis Pappas, Eleni Tzirtzilaki and the collectives Campus Novel (Giannis Chimonakis, Giannis Delagrammatikas, Fotini Palpana, Giannis Sinioroglou, Ino Varvariti), Vaskos (Vassilis Noulas ―being also an ex-participant to the Kinisi Mavili collective― and Kostas Tzimoulis) and the Filopappou Group (represented by Kostas Christopoulos and Nikos Papadopoulos) were the artists who participated in our research by talking in public about their work.

The field of contemporary art presents a great complexity and therefore resists generalizing research findings. Each artist’s itinerary is constructed and presented as unique and original, and the ways (s)he understands when, why and how to do research are greatly varied. We tried to respond to this by adopting a step-by-step comparison and differentiation between the artists’ works, guided by four case studies that we will further analyze. Nevertheless, we noted certain characteristics that most of these artists share: their rich and sometimes even diverse academic background, their interest in complex subject matters such as the body, performance, the public space and their preference for methods and references coming from social sciences and humanities. It is important though to point out that artistic research rarely informs scientific research.

Moreover it seems that most of the artists are not ready to address “difficult” issues with an epistemological, academic or even straightforward political interest concerning research and education in the arts in Greece nowadays. This may be partly due to the lack of relevant public dialogue. It is interesting, though, participants –invited artists, theorists and the audience during the talks and the conference– were eager to debate the meaning of the term “artistic research” and its possible translations in Greek. This eagerness seemed –at least to us– to be a reaction towards the newness of artistic research in the Greek art scene and education.

Hopefully, our research has contributed to create a space for exchange and interaction concerning multiple meanings and ways of doing research, on and with art. Although we take into account the need to defend the art’s freedom, potentially threatened by the academic norms, we do not wish to adopt such a dichotomy which simplifies what is at stake with artistic research today. Eventually, research might be art, not because all art is research but because research is art in the sense that it is a risk taking cultural activity that crosses boundaries to approach otherness.

Elpida Rikou has studied sociology (Panteion University, Athens), anthropology (D.E.A., Université Paris V-Sorbonne), social psychology (D.E.A. and Ph.D, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris) and visual arts (Athens School of Fine Arts). She has taught Anthropology of Art in the Department of Theory and History of Art of the Athens School of Fine Arts from 2007 to 2017.From 2011 to 2013 she has also taught in the Postgraduate Program (Master in Fine Arts) of the Department of Visual Arts of the same School. She is the editor of the volume Anthropology and Contemporary Art (Alexandria, 2013) for  which she has also written the introduction, as well as of the translation in Greek of Marc Augé’s book Pour une anthropologie des mondes contemporains (Alexandria, 1999). She has co-edited the translation in Greek of Alfred Gell’s book Art and Agency (M.I.E.T., forthcoming), two volumes combining works of artists and social scientists on value (Αξία, nissos, 2018) and on sound and voice (Φωνές/Fones, nissos,2016), as well as the special issue of FIELD.A journal of socially engaged art criticism on research between art and anthropology (2018). She has published articles in scientific periodicals, edited collections, art catalogues and newspapers. She has conceived and coordinated several art projects with a transdisciplinary character in which she is also a participant as an anthropologist and visual artist, since 2010 (the art, research and education project TWIXTlab, with S.Grigoriadou and G.Samantas, the international research project “Learning from documenta” with E.Yalouri, etc.).


Katerina Konstantinou is an art historian and holds an MA in Exhibition Curating. She is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Social Anthropology at Panteion University in Athens. Her research interests focus on the intersection of the fields of contemporary arts, anthropology and archaeology. She has participated in several research programs. She has worked for museums and cultural institutions in Greece and abroad. She has participated in conferences and she has published texts in collective volumes, exhibition catalogs and magazines. Lately, she has been closely collaborating with artists in various projects that involve research methods and practices into the art-making processes.

Selected Publications

  • 2018, «Αξία» (σε συνεργασία με τους Ε. Γιαλούρη, Α.Λαμπρόπουλο).Αθήνα: νήσος
  • 2016, «Φωνές/Fonés»(σε συνεργασία με τον Π.Πανόπουλο). Αθήνα: νήσος. (Συλλογή κειμένων και έργων των Αθανασίου, Αλιγιζάκη, Αντωνάκη, Αρβανίτη, Γιαλούρη, Γκλίνου, Γρηγοριάδου, Ερράντες, Ζήκα, Ξαγοράρη, Καρατζαφέρη, Κονδυλάτου, Κωβαίου, Μπαϊρακτάρη, Μπήτου, Μπουμπάρη, ΝτεΛαννουά, Πανόπουλου, Παππά, Παπουτσάκη, Ραυτοπούλου, Ρεμούνδου, Ρεμύ, Ρίκου, Σαμαντά, Σαραφείδου, Σιαφά, Σκλαβενίτη, Στεφάνου, Χαβιαρά, Χαραλάμπους. Περιλαμβάνει μετάφραση κείμενου του Ζ.Λ.Νανσύ)
  • 2013, «Ανθρωπολογία και Σύγχρονη Τέχνη». Αθήνα: Εκδόσεις Αλεξάνδρεια. (συλλογή κειμένων/συγγραφείς: J.Clifford, J.Coote, H.Foster, A.Gell, P.Gow , G.Marcus, H.Morphy, F.Myers, J.Overing, J.Weiner. Σε μετάφραση των Β.Ιακώβου, Ε.Καρρά, Π.Μαρκέτου, Δ.Σαραφείδου, Β.Σπυροπούλου, Α.Τσίγκα)
  • (υπό δημοσίευση).   Gell, Α.,«Τέχνη και Δράση» (1η εκδ.1998). (σε συνεργασία με τον Π.Πανόπουλο), (Μετάφραση: Π.Μαρκέτου). Αθήνα: Εκδόσεις  Μ.Ι.Ε.Τ.
  • 1999, Ωζέ, Μ.,«Για μια ανθρωπολογία των σύγχρονων κόσμων» (1η εκδ.1994). (Μετάφραση: Δ.Σαραφείδου), Αθήνα: Εκδόσεις Αλεξάνδρεια. (περιλαμβάνει συνέντευξη του Μ.Ωζέ στην Ε.Ρίκου)
  •  (υπο δημοσίευση).«Contemporary Art and ‘Difficult Heritage’.Three case studies from Athens.» (σε συνεργασία με την Ε.Γιαλούρη). Στο E.Solomon (επιμ.). Contested Antiquity, Indiana University Press.
  • 2014, «When the ‘dematerialization of the art object is taken to an extreme’:Notes on‘materiality’s relevance to the anthropology of contemporary art.». Στο Bampilis T. & P. ter Keurs (ed.),Social Matter(s).Anthropological Approaches to Materiality. Οξφόρδη, Νέα Υόρκη: Berghah Books, σ.183-192.
  • 2012, «Η σύγχρονη τέχνη – της ανθρωπολογίας». Στο Ε.Γιαλούρη (επιμ.) «Υλικός πολιτισμός. Η ανθρωπολογία στη χώρα των πραγμάτων», Αθήνα: Εκδόσεις Αλεξάνδρεια, σ. 151-170.
  • 2018, «The Art of Research Practices between Art and Anthropology» (επιμέλεια ειδικού τεύχους σε συνεργασία με την Ε.Γιαλούρη). FIELD.A Journal of Socially Engaged Art Criticism. Special issue (autumn) (Περιλαμβάνει κείμενα των T.Fillitz, T.Ingold, G.Marcus, R. Sansi, A.Schneider,E.Rikou, C.Wright, E.Yalouri)
  • 2017, «Learning from documenta. A research project between art and anthropology» (σε συνεργασία με την Ε.Γιαλούρη). Στο On Curating 33, Special Issue on documenta, N. Buurman και D.Richter (eds), σ.132-138.
  • 2016, «Crisis as Art: Young Artists Envisage Mutating Greece (σε συνεργασία με την Η.Χαβιαρά). Στο Visual Anthropology Review, Special Issue: «Uncertain Visions. Crisis, Ambiguity and Visual Culture in Greece» (επιμέλεια Κ.Καλαντζής), vol.32, issue 1, σ.47-60.