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Heterotopia



P1200281Living here in Portillo is a trip, a place full of contradictions.  The spectacular scenery, world class freeride terrain for skiers and snowboarders and fully serviced hotel in the heart of the Andes.  However this is also one of the passes between Chile and Argentina, this picturesque place is a thoroughfare for trucks transporting all kinds of goods.  Its a hostile place with the road being subject to closures frequently due to the winding switchbacks that lead up to the border.  The parked up trucks display the amount of traffic that passes through on any given day navigating the pass.

The border itself is a ramshackle warehouse of a place.  Similar to a lot of the buildings in these mountains it looks temporary, subject to movement both by mother nature and man.  This living so close to a border in a man made utopia is quite surreal, the road provides a reminder to the real, the world that operates away from here.  For those not from here the road is understandable whilst the resort is itself a heterotopia.  A yellow hotel built within a South American country for those who have the money to enjoy the finer things in life and privileged enough to be able to ski.

I am sure it will be a time in my life that I will make me question daily where I am.  The idea of only knowing what is beneath your feet and not really knowing what the next step will bring.  This borderland seems to be less certain maybe similar to the buildings the ground is less certain or not as comprehendible.




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Dom Smith

Work from his oeuvre.

“My practice extracts forms from the physical world and reconsiders their image through fragmentation and reordering. The transferability from one state of being to another and then back again provides the basis for my content. This preoccupation has brought about a pattern in my work wherein physical objects and surfaces are re-created as illusionistic 2D paintings. My method utilizes computer-controlled environments to create and manipulate items which come to me from passive seeing in life and from the memory of seeing said items. I build the subjects of the paintings in the computer and then attempt to render them as faithfully as possible into physical presences. I began this work by taking classical surface features such as moldings, cornices, and friezes and breaking them into fragments. I would install these fragments in arrangements suggestive of inherent symbolic relationships. The intelligibility of these relationships originates with liturgical imagery and the hierarchies of symbols in the church.” – Dom Smith

Shame to miss this show back in London.  Ends the day I leave Chile, such a shame as the group exhibition has some great artists and works.

THE SPACE WHERE I AM | GROUP EXHIBITION

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THE SPACE WHERE I AM | GROUP EXHIBITION

17 July 2014 – 27 September 2014

The Directors of Blain|Southern are delighted to present The Space Where I Am, a group show exploring ideas of the void and emptiness from the 1960s to the present day.

The exhibition’s title is taken from philosopher Gaston Bachelard’s book The Poetics of Space (1958), which describes the lived experience of space and where he contended “it is better to live in a state of impermanence than in one of finality”. All of the assembled works examine the dialectic between absence and presence, primarily valuing absence in the construction of form.

An element of faith or belief is often required when encountering Tom Friedman’s (b.1965) works; the viewer is invited to engage with the idea of the work, which might not be immediately visually apparent. Upon first encounter, Untitled (A Curse) (1992) appears as an empty pedestal. However, the sculpture actually comprises an invisible globe of space, as a witch has been asked to cast a curse on an 11-inch sphere floating 11 inches above the top of the pedestal.

Donald Judd’s (1928-1994) Untitled is a historical work from 1969, exploring how sculptural space cannot exist without empty space. A long, hollow aluminium beam rests on blocks of various sizes, the spaces between these corresponding to the blocks in identical proportions (based on the Fibonacci sequence). Judd felt that both positive and negative spaces were integral to form, with the relationship between the artwork and its environment also being key. Indeed, Carl Andre’s (b.1935) 36 Aluminium Lock Square(1968), a tile pattern arranged on the floor, directly explores space and form, removing sculpture from the plinth so that it expands into the space of the gallery and physical remit of the viewer.

Based on the principle that in our age matter should be transformed into energy and invade space in a dynamic form, Lucio Fontana’s(1899-1968) Concetto Spaziale (1964) consists of cuts and slashes to the surface of a bright monochrome painting. This gestural aesthetic blurs the distinction between two-and three-dimensionality, opening up sculptural possibilities with the appearance of a void behind, giving the spectator a sense of ‘serenity in infinity’. In a similar vein, work by Michelangelo Pistoletto (b.1933) addresses the spectator directly through a mirrored surface, blurring the line between the space of the work and the space of the viewer, unifying art and the changing realities of everyday life.

Integral to defining the aesthetic possibilities of video, one of Bill Viola’s (b.1951) rarer sound works, Presence (1995), offers a sensitive interpretation of human existence. First exhibited in the rotunda of the US Pavilion at the 46th Venice Biennale, voices from early childhood through to old age can be heard at the edge of audibility, whispering secrets and personal stories. The presence of the work can only be heard and felt, as sound vibrations pulse through the space.

In Schwarz, Rot, Gold (1999), Gerhard Richter (b.1932) abolishes form in favour of blank, reflective spaces; black, red and gold rectangles — recalling the German flag – become relational to the painting’s environment. Created alongside Richter’s commission for the entrance hall of the Reichstag in Berlin, celebrating the reunification of Germany, the work emphasises history’s untold stories, emptiness and reflectivity providing a vehicle to evoke memory.

James Turrell’s (b.1943) work is primarily concerned with light and space, and Pullen (Red) (1968) is created by projecting a single, controlled beam of light from the opposing corner of the room, so that it appears as a three-dimensional form. Working with simulation and real-time 3-D, John Gerrard’s (b.1974) work Sun Spot Drawing (Guantanamo City) 2012 (2012) is also created purely using light. The artist’s hand holds a magnifying lens which simultaneously casts a shadow and concentrates the sun’s rays into one pure white spot in its center. The work unfolds in this way, dawn until dusk, every day for a full 365-day solar year.

Taking a closer look into travelling sound and light waves, Continuum (2013) by the artist collective United Visual Artists (UVA), was born out of studies into interference and the way in which waves are refracted by environments that we occupy. Among other media, the sculpture uses coded LED lights in an attempt to merge the visible and invisible.

Best known for his paintings and sculptures that reflect concerns with the social ills of urban living, Keith Coventry (b.1958) often signals absent presences. Bench (1995), suggests an act of urban vandalism, presenting a bench characterised by its loss of function, its wooden seat gone to reveal a lonely skeleton. Rachel Whiteread (b.1963) actively casts negative space, inverting the presence of objects and nothingness. A work from the late 1990s, Untitled (Paperbacks) formally recalls minimalist sculpture, while incorporating hues of subtle colour; casting an impression of the pages of books, rather than their spines, it marks the removal of the object’s function and suggests absence or loss. Gordon Matta-Clark’s (1943-1978) silver-dye bleach-print Office Baroque (1977) marks the artist’s site specific work in a derelict building in central Antwerp where he made cut-aways in the different stories of the building, creating a vertical deconstructive sculpture.

Lawrence Weiner’s (b.1942) ROLLED INTO & ONTO THE SEA (1999) draws into question the relationship between sculptural form, signification and meaning. In the 1960s, Weiner challenged traditional assumptions about the status and nature of art. In doing so, he offered a unique insight into the difficulties of ascribing fixed forms and definitions, or perhaps even meaning, to both the practice of art-making and to the art object itself.

Rosy Keyser’s (b.1974) painting reaches beyond the limits of the canvas, inspiring a bodily response to our existence in the material world. Interested in the intersection between people and the matter that surrounds us, she forages for materials which she then gesturally moulds, tears or deconstructs to reveal their intrinsic fragilities. Using large stretchers that seem window-like and operate as a grid, these materials are applied upon voids of space to suggest a sense of ritual and renewal. Decay and absence are in flux, emphasising past presence and action; a palimpsest of existence that waxes and wanes.

Spinning Heads in Reverse (2006) by Tim Noble & Sue Webster (b.1966; b.1967) actively plays with positive and negative space. Self-portraits of the artists appear to be both physically absent but simultaneously present, perhaps only truly resonating in the viewer’s imagination.

Employing a metaphorical interpretation of absence and obstruction, Michael Joo’s (b.1966) Emigrant (2012) explores notions of exclusion and socio-economic division. Delicate self-entwining rope and stanchion forms are constructed of mirrored borosilicate glass, both absorbing and reflecting their own surroundings. As familiar objects that define space and segregate people, Joo suggests a new space, a cyclic space, which breaks down any social or physical divide.

Through the dialogues created by the juxtaposition of these artworks, the exhibition assesses how absence can actively give form to space, a subject that has preoccupied artists over the past half century, as well as examining how viewers might encounter these ‘empty’ spaces.

For further information on the exhibition, please contact Mark Inglefield
T: +44 758 419 9500 | E: mark@blainsouthern.com

Image above:

Michael Joo
Emigrant
2012
Mirrored borosilicate glass
Approx. 139.7 x 61 x 81.3 cm (55 x 24 x 32 in)
Photo: Peter Mallet 23.04.2012

 

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Things have been fast paced in the last few weeks.  I would normally be writing this from Queenstown, New Zealand where I have been based for the past thirteen winters however a month ago a new opportunity arose in Chile, specifically in Portillo.  So since making the move and taking on the challenge of learning a language in no time at all I am here in Portillo, Chile.  I spent two weeks in Santiago at a language school which gave me the basics and now I am in the thick of it trying to teach English, Spanish and Brazilian guests to snowboard.  I have to admit the office is pretty inspiring.

Whilst in Santiago I made a day trip to a city a couple of hours away call Valparaiso.  This is an inspiring city with a bubbling creative scene.  The street walls are painted in vivid colours and in addition some of the best street art I have seen in a long time.

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I am starting to build some new works around the digital collage that I made last year in Athens, Greece.  I hope to have a new piece up and running sooner rather than later.  I am also putting together final plans for my time in Armenia in October at the ACSL artist residency.  My nomadic life will continue for now, however I am looking for a base to create some works that are ready to be fabricated.  I guess this will always be the balance with this lifestyle and trying to balance the two sides of my life.

 

An Excursion Into LA’s Mojave Hinterland at the CLUI Desert Research Station

Kim Stringfellow
Re-blogged from KCET
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The Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI) has always occupied a somewhat paradoxical space–one that is informatively neutral but at the same time also subtly provocative. This aspect allows its organizers to penetrate often, impenetrable places such as the Nevada Test Site. Indeed, the CLUI is as well known inside the art world as it is outside of it. It is in fact one of the more internationally well-known and respected interdisciplinary entities in contemporary art that often does not appear as an arts organization at all but instead as a highly creative interpretive center for some institutional-like agency.

Founded in 1994 by the Center’s director, Matthew Coolidge along with various CLUI associates as a research and educational organization whose mission is “dedicated to the increase and diffusion of information about how the nation’s lands are apportioned, utilized, and perceived.” The CLUI stipulate that “the manmade landscape is a cultural inscription, that can be read to better understand who we are, and what we are doing.” The Center is interested in multiple interpretations of landscape from a variety of perspectives and points of view.

The Center supports and presents a variety of exhibition programs at its main exhibition and office location in Culver City, CA adjacent to another SoCal gem of hard-to-classify arts practice–The Museum of Jurassic Technology. The Culver City location also features a bookstore where one may sign up for the Center’s newsletter, The Lay of the Land and purchase various Center produced publications. The CLUI also organizes highly popular bus tour trips. Its years of research have been organized into a publicly accessible online Land Use Database. On occasion, the Center hosts outside researchers though its Independent Interpreter Series.

The Center for Land Use Interpretation Desert Research Station. | Photo: Kim Stringfellow.

The Center for Land Use Interpretation Desert Research Station. | Photo: Kim Stringfellow.

The Center’s American Land Museum is a group of associated satellite locations including the Wendover facility located deep within the Great Basin at the Nevada/Utah border adjacent to Utah’s Great Salt Lake–home of land speed records and Robert Smithson’sSpiral Jetty. Here resides the Center’s Wendover artist residency program at a former WWII training airbase whose claim to fame is its role supporting the first atomic bombing missions dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Wendover visitors may casually visit the Enola Gay hanger that housed the B-29 bomber that forever sealed Hiroshima’s nuclear fate, later immortalized in early Richard Misrach photographs.

Other field office locations and facilities include the Gulf States Field Office in Houston, TX; the Northeast Field Office in Troy, NY; the New Mexico Field Site outside of Albuquerque, NM; the Central States Exhibit Unit in Lebanon, KS and the Desert Research Station located in Hinkley, CA.

Opened in 2000 as part of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s exhibition Flight Patterns, the Desert Research Station (DRS) focuses on the California Desert region, specifically the Mojave Desert extending from Los Angeles outward fringes within the Antelope Valley eastward into Las Vegas, Death Valley, and the Mojave National Preserve–essentially “the desert beltway around the hinterlands of Los Angeles.” Exhibits are open year-round to the public and are accessible as self-guided gallery walk-throughs (visitors must access the facility through the combination keypad after phoning the CLUI during regular business hours for the access code; call-in information is located at the door). The DRS grounds include interpretive walking trails with signage exhibits. Additional facilities on site are available for researchers conducting operations with the CLUI.

Walking Trail. | Photo: Courtesy of CLUI.

Walking Trail. | Photo: Courtesy of CLUI.

Recent projects include several sound installations “related to spatial dynamics of the ground.” Steve Badgett and artist and interdisciplinary artist, Deborah Stratman produced the Desert Resonator, a 75-foot long aeolian harp which reacts and interprets the wind movement’s over the ground into sound, using a spherical acoustic resonator. This permanently installed sonic sculpture’s “six 75′ long strings pass over dual bridges and produce multi-harmonic drones contingent upon the force and consistency of the air currents”–effectively translating the wind.

Desert Resonator (Steve Badgett, Deborah Stratman). | Photo: Deborah Stratman.

Desert Resonator (Steve Badgett, Deborah Stratman). | Photo: Deborah Stratman.

CLUI associate, Steve Rowell explores the phenomenology of sonic booms linking sky, sound, and ground in unexpected ways. Due to the DRS’s proximity to Edwards Air Force Base and Naval Air Weapons China Lake Facility makes it a perfect location to research and collection of such sonic phenomena.

Wendover artist residency program participant William Lamson ended up staging his Line Describing the Sun project in the winter months of 2011 on nearby Harper Dry Lake when the originally intended site conditions at the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover proved inadequate. Using a Fresnel lens apparatus mounted onto a mobile unit Lamson inscribed a 366-foot burn arc other the course of one day onto the lakebed. The concentrated intensity of the 1,600-degree point of light melted the lakebed’s dry surface, “transforming it into a black glassy substance.” When the project was later exhibited in NYC the project prompted the NY Times to comment, “Mr. Lamson can’t go back in time, but he can still go to the desert.”

 

William Lawson executing 'Line Describing the Sun.' | Photo: Courtesy of CLUI.

William Lawson executing ‘Line Describing the Sun.’ | Photo: Courtesy of CLUI.

Other current projects include a collaboration with University of Southern California art curatorial graduate students that is studying and documenting experimental aircraft crash sites found throughout the region.

Future research projects include those supported by independent/autonomous solar power systems, an underground bunker space, additional sound/space projects, and one concerning DIY low altitude aerial photography. The walking trail is scheduled for completion by January 2013 with a combination gate to allow public access.

For more information visit the Center’s website.

The street address for the DRS is 40083 Hinkley Road, Hinkley, CA 92347.
Directions to CLUI’s Desert Research Station: From downtown Los Angeles, take I-10 east, to I-15 north towards Las Vegas/Barstow. Just before Barstow, take Highway 58 west. Proceed approximately 9 miles to Hinkley Road, which is sometimes indicated with a “Hinkley 1 Mile” sign. Turn right on Hinkley Road and drive north 4 miles to the DRS, located on the east side of the road. Phone the CLUI at (310) 839-5722 for combination access code during normal business hours.

Top Image: Using the horns at the DRS, acoustic “binoculars” on the walking trail. | Photo: Courtesy of CLUI

Re-Blogged from Motherboard

Floating Utopias for the Age of Rising Seas

Written by
BRIAN MERCHANT
@bcmerchant
brian.merchant@vice.com

May 14, 2014 // 07:00 AM EST

 

A two mile-thick ice sheet in Antarctica is collapsing, which all but guarantees at least 10 feet of global sea level rise. That’s grim news for the 44 percent of the world’s population living in coastal areas, who now face the dire prospect of preparing for the coming tides. Developing the necessary engineering solutions, as well as plans to anticipate some inevitable social and economic destabilization, will prove a daunting challenge for millions of communities worldwide. Which is why, along with the engineers, we’re going to need utopianists.

In 1962, haunted by the specter of nuclear annihilation, the sociologist Lewis Mumford penned a new preface to his book, The Story of UtopiasHe noted that utopianism tends to thrive when civilization is in turmoil, and that far from being useless pie-in-the-sky dreaming, our utopian myths, schemes, and fictions hint at what he terms society’s “potentialities.”  

“[E]very community possesses, in addition to its going institutions, a reservoir of potentialities, partly rooted in the past, still alive though hidden, and partly budding forth from new mutations, which open the way to further development,” Mumford wrote. In the face of utter destruction by the bomb, he said, there was nonetheless an opportunity to “renew in man himself the sense of his more-than-human potentialities.” 

Now, we’re faced with an existential crises of another stripe. Scientists have for the last few years considered a significant amount of global warming, and the sea level rise it brings with it, an inevitability. Now that we have a forebodingly certain baseline in place, it’s an apt time to look at some of the many utopian ideas that have quite literally—yeah, sorry—been floated to cope with the rising tides.

Image courtesy of Remizov

Floating Cities

I’ve been keeping a close eye on modern utopianism for the last couple years, and one of the most common themes is, unsurprisingly, floating cities.

Whether grandiose, or of the humbler variety, both sci-fi designers and urban planners are imagining how to raise our metropolises up to ride atop the rising tides. First, let’s look at what is maybe the most prevalent medium for modern utopianism on the internet—design fiction. You’ve maybe already seen some examples of the genre running through your feed; the self-sustaining, ark-like city designed to float in a globally-warmed world. 

This one, designed by Russian architect Alexander Remizov, is a “bioclimatic” ark—a self-sustaining, floating system designed to harbor insular communities of people in a disaster-ridden, high-tide world. It’s both apocalyptic and hopeful; we can keep our sleek modernist design and opulent lives, we modern-day Noahs decked out with smart tech, as the world ravages everything unfortunate enough to lie outside the walls we’ve built. 

According to Arch Daily, “Remizov envisioned this project as the house for the future which can be constructed quickly and withstand environmental disasters through its structural integrity.” Resilient, perfectly-organized floating domiciles aren’t just the focus of science fiction, though.

Image: NLE

In a poor neighborhood of Lagos, Nigeria—now Africa’s largest economy—local architects are trying to engineer an entire city to float. The first phase has been completed; the school is now essentially a moored boat. But the next phase of the African Water Cities Project is where the utopian planning begins in earnest.

According to Design Boom, “phase two includes the construction of floating housing units that can be interlocked or float independently… the houses will also contain a state-of-the-art device designed by Japanese company AIR Danshin Systems Inc that detects certain movements (such as earthquake tremors) and activated a compressor that pumps air into a chamber below the structure so that the dwellings may navigate safely over a flood plain.” It’s supposed to be completed by the end of this year, but as with most utopian schemes, it appears to be a bit behind schedule.

Floating Power

Nuclear energy was the original utopian energy source: boundless, clean, a triumph of science. To its advocates, it still reflects near-unlimited potential. So, to better suit our drowning world, MIT has made them float. These buoyed, modular reactors rise and fall with the seas; tsunamis ostensibly glance off them harmlessly, and they use the vast reservoir of ocean below them as a well for cooling water as they produce a font of clean energy.  Problems persist, of course; meltdowns or radioactive discharge are even more a terrifying specter at sea. 

Less controversial, but no less optimistic are other floating power sources; Singapore is getting ready to try out a pilot program for floating solar panels.

New Venices

If we cannot build utopian floating city-capsules, then perhaps we at least will be able to adapt our current infrastructure to the flood. Science fiction might offer some clues as to how.

The sci-fi historian Adam Roberts argues that “utopian writing becomes a sort of para-SF, entwining itself round the genre in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.” Yet in traditional science fiction, it’s rare that irreversible climate change produces hopeful communities; Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 is the exceptional vision that does. 

“It was almost an ice-free planet now, with only Antarctica and Greenland holding on to much, and Greenland going fast. Sea level was therefore eleven meters higher than it had been before the changes,” Robinson writes. “This inundation of the coastline was one of the main drivers of the human disaster on Earth.” Pertinent words, those.

After a couple generations of terrible chaos, some degree of stability reemerged—as well as a New York City replete with Venetian canals laced between permanently submerged skyscrapers. Life, and its messy bustle, goes on: “A few parts of Manhattan’s ground still stood above the water, but most of it was drowned, the old streets now canals, the city an elongated Venice, a skyscraper Venice, a super Venice—which was a very beautiful thing to be. Indeed it was an oft-expressed cliche that the city had been improved by the flood.”

Floating Free Market Utopias

Image: Seasteading Institute 

It’s doubtful that libertarians like Peter Thiel are all that interested in fighting climate change; statistically speaking, most don’t consider it a pressing issue. But their long-gestating Seasteading communities, those floating free market utopias where the tech elite can innovate away without the burdensome shackles of government, incidentally appear primed to adapt to a high-tide planet.

Rising Prospects for Radical Change

From the beginning, Occupy Wall Street was a utopian project in the strictest sense—a leaderless, ultra-egalitarian activist community founded at the foot of its participants’ oppressor. Utopian projects are often most notable for how they illuminate the gulf between imperfect reality and their lofty aims, and the gulf OWS, was attempting to bridge was glaringly self-evident: Students, laborers, and average citizens couldn’t find work, while profits for the 1 percent soared. A radical adjustment to income equality was therefore in order.

When Hurricane Sandy, pulling from sea levels raised by climate change, washed over New York City, the movement’s ideals were again translated into action—and we saw a glimmer of how besieged coastal communities might organize to respond to crises. Decentralized, democratic, networked, and better organized than legacy aid efforts, Occupy Sandy empowered communities while delivering disaster relief. It proved Occupy could organize to provide shelter, health, food delivery, and other crucial services.

But, effective as it was, it also made the chasm to utopia again starkly evident, this time in the face of a harsh scientific reality—thousands of people are still without homes, and storms like this are going to keep coming. Occupy Sandy shows how far we need to travel before we’re ready for the disasters of the future—our institutions aren’t yet equipped to cope. 

That’s why we need to consider each of these utopian ideas (okay, maybe not the Steasteads). As Mumford says, even if the total vision they convey are ultimately impossible, they reveal the potentialities in our communities to first adequately imagine, then adapt, life beset by rising seas.

 

10296174_476816305783975_1896722786469790853_o 10309337_1506298946265136_7694545771599548638_n 10339549_10154066985225316_1956882948861110285_nThis year has been going well for me in Athens with events unfolding from my time spent on the SNEHTA Artist Residency last Autumn.  This week saw the opening of Art Athina 2014.  SNEHTA used this art fair to showcase the second set of residents from their residency.

SNEHTA Press Release:

“Things are Different Now”
Snehta Resident Artists Annual Show (2013-2014)

15-18 MAY
Booth P13, Art Athina Platforms Projects, Faliro Pavilion (TaeKwon Do), 2 Moraitini Str., Faliron Delta

Participating artists:
Elliott Burns, Jack Burton, Catriona Gallagher, Boris Lafargue, Andrew Peter Mason, Dickie Webb

Organized by:
Irini Bachlitzanaki, Becky Campbell & Augustus Veinoglou for Snehta Residency, Athens

Things are Different Now brings together work by six artists who completed an artists’ residency at Snehta in
the past year and is the second annual show of residents. The works on show were either created in Athens
or shortly after the resident artists’ stay at Snehta. While they are the result of distinct artistic practices,
seen together they bring to the fore issues of location and dislocation, change and movement as well as the
experience of time and space and the way this is worked through and inscribed on an individual piece of art.

I made a new version of a work that I have continued to use as the basis of my thoughts since Athens, the work titled;

Concept of Since: 24 Options,

4 words

24 orders

Multiple meanings.

Merleau-Ponty described space, as having many meanings and it is only how it is phrased/spoken that gives it meaning.

The current Athenian landscape can be read in different ways by those who live/visit here. It has multiple meanings and like most cities and countries are hard to interpret. This work asks people to consider these short statements in relation to their current landscape, asking them to question their own experience of the here and now. Whilst some viewers will be hung up on the negative others will see opportunity in with each rendition.

Thanks for the SNEHTA team for organising this and making this a success.

Art Athina runs from 15th – 18th of May click here for the website.

Click here for SNEHTA website

 

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